US Sewer Data and Surges Abroad Should Remind Us the Pandemic Isn’t Over

Although the testing of wastewater to detect viruses in a whole population has been done since the days when polio was a problem, it took until the March 2020 COVID-19 outbreak to make it practical. in AustriaThe technique has been made a major part of the pandemic fighting. The U.S. has seen the elimination of mass COVID testing by the last president, which was a major concern for his reelection campaign. Water testing has since been the only method to monitor viral trends across large areas of the population.

That’s the good news. The bad news? The numbers are increasing again. “A wastewater network that monitors for Covid-19 trends is warning that cases are once again rising in many parts of the U.S., according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data,” reports Bloomberg News. “More than a third of the CDC’s wastewater sample sites across the U.S. showed rising Covid-19 trends in the period ending March 1 to March 10, though reported cases have stayed near a recent low.”

This raises a host of alarming possibilities. Scientists have been closely monitoring the BA.2 subvariant, which is already making a strong showing across Europe and China. It is possible that BA.2 may already be present in the U.S. and has at least partially contributed to the rise in cases throughout the country. The damage done by Omicron, Delta, and Omicron in the weeks and month ahead will be instructive.

However, it has been wisely stated that one should not consider zebras when hearing hoofbeats. Occam’s Razor suggests an exhausted nation is shedding its personal COVID protections on the gossamer promise that a corner has been turned. Except in a few critical and contentious areas, mask mandates are almost gone, including those for commercial airlines and school districts. Thus, the current rise in cases could be due to a segment of the populace letting down its defenses because the TV said, “Everything’s cool now, y’all, come on out and be capitalists again.”

The news may tell you we’re returning to “normalcy,” but 8,000 dead a week tells a different story; if this uptick continues, it runs the risk of taxing our already-battered health care infrastructure if/when BA.2 DoesCome knocking.

The new COVID epidemic in China has the potential for global chaos. The Chinese government has imposed a complete lockdown in many regions, directly affecting tech giants such as Foxconn, Tencent, and Huawei. Any significant disruption could further weaken the global supply chains and risk exacerbating rising inflationary pressures. Foxconn, whose clients include Apple, informed CNN upon query thatThe “date of factory resumption is to be advised by the local government.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s bloody war in Ukraine is having a ruinous effect on another global supply chain, this one involving food. “At least 50 countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for 30 percent or more of their wheat supply,” reports the Guardian, “and many developing countries in northern Africa, Asia and the near east are among the most reliant. The price increases are most severe to poor countries. Many of the poorest countries were already struggling financially, with some facing debt crises, amid the pandemic.”

War, famine, pestilence… three horsemen of the apocalypse as devised by John of Patmos. The fourth? “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”

I’ve never been the praying type, so let’s keep it simple and bring it all back to the wastewater: We’re in deep shit, friends.