ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — A COVID-19 variant may be more prevalent in Central Florida than first thought.
Since April, the city of Altamonte Springs has been testing its wastewater for COVID-19. The tests can predict upticks in community spread seven days in advance.
Last week, the city began to also test for the new U.K. variant of the virus.
The department of health confirmed that six people have tested positive in Seminole County for that new U.K variant. But the tests being done at the Altamonte Springs Wastewater Plant found there may be more people walking around with it that don’t even know it.
“We have discovered that the two most hyper transmissible strains of the U.K. variant are present in our area,” City Manager Frank Martz said.
Martz said while less than 1% of the population the wastewater plant services tested positive for COVID-19, the positivity rate could be as high as 11%.
“And of them, about 4.5%, 4.4% of those people have the U.K. variant,” Martz said.
Seminole County Medical Director Dr. Todd Husty said the wastewater results tell an even more troubling story.
“It means there are people who are out there that are asymptomatic even with the variant, so it’s different from the original but it’s not that different,” Husty said.
The Altamonte Springs COVID-19 predictive model is part of the CDC’s national wastewater surveillance project. They are starting to teach others like Seminole County how to test as well.