‘No imminent threat’ Health officials respond after COVID variant found in Coldwater Creek wastewater


ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – COVID-19 viral fragments containing the UK variant have been found in the Coldwater Creek wastewater system. St. Louis County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Faisal Khan said there is no imminent threat to county residents and no reason to panic.

In terms of prevention measures, Khan said there is nothing they would advise the public to do differently today than they would have done two weeks ago.

The sample showing the presence of the UK variant was taken from the Coldwater Creek Treatment plant on Feb. 22. A week before that, samples from over a dozen wastewater systems across the state showed small amounts of the UK variant, but the variant didn’t show up in the second round of testing.

Dr. Randall Williams, director of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, said that’s not uncommon.

“What we are really trying to show you is that when we released the data two weeks ago it was in 13 sites all across the state,” Williams said. “This week it is not in those areas, but it was in that one area of St. Louis. I have no doubt that when we look at it again it will be in other parts of Missouri.”

Dr. Khan and Dr. Williams said the data doesn’t mean that the UK variant is just in the area of the Coldwater Creek wastewater treatment plant. It means it is everywhere in Missouri and is more prevalent than just the two cases that have been recorded in the state.

The doctors said even though some people are experiencing COVID fatigue the data proves now is not the time to let up.

“We want to avoid a third wave and third surge at all cost and in the next four to six weeks we are going to pass through a very critical phase as more and more people get vaccinated,” Khan said.

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