"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

COVID levels are falling, but other viruses remain high

March 19, 2024 – COVID-19 could also be heading for a spring retreat.

The advice comes from declining levels of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID – detected in wastewater over the past three weeks. In all western US states, virus levels are already considered “low”. In the Midwest and South, detection rates are at medium levels, while within the Northeast the degrees remain high WASTE SCAN.

But this will not be the time to let our guard down, as large quantities of other viruses that cause stomach and respiratory illnesses proceed to flow into across the country. Wastewater data currently shows threats from influenza, RSV, norovirus and rotavirus.

The rate of positive flu tests reported to the CDC had been declining since peaking at about 16% in mid-January, but positive test rates at the moment are rising again, with essentially the most recent weekly rate back at about 15%. According to the CDC's weekly flu publication, 116 children and an estimated 20,000 adults have died from the flu thus far this flu season. FluView.

RSV wastewater detection stays high, particularly within the Midwest and Northeast, WastewaterSCAN data shows. But positive RSV test results Cases reported to the CDC are on the low point of the 2023 to 2024 season, with fewer than 2,000 positive results reported for the week of March 9, in comparison with a peak of greater than 14,000 cases around Christmas.

Wastewater data tends to offer a real-time (and sometimes predictive) view of pathogen behavior in the overall population, as sick people typically wait for symptoms to worsen before looking for medical care. About 12% of norovirus tests reported to the CDC within the last three weeks of February were positive, reflecting an upward trend seen in the course of the same period last yr. In 2023, norovirus within the United States peaked in March with a positive test rate of around 16%. CDC data show.

Last yr, COVID also followed a downward trend within the spring. Around this time last yr, there have been about 20,000 weekly hospitalizations as a result of COVID-19, in comparison with just over 13,000 at the beginning of March this yr. All COVID metrics, including positive test rates, hospitalizations and emergency room visits, are currently trending downward, the CDC said COVID data tracker shows. The positive COVID test rate is 5%, and just one% of emergency room visits within the U.S. involve a COVID-19 diagnosis.

“We are seeing a downward trend, which is fantastic,” said Marlene Wolfe, PhD, WastewaterSCAN program director, told USA today. “Hopefully this pattern will continue as we enjoy warmer weather and longer daylight.”