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Currently, the surge in the COVID-19 Delta variant is of significant concern. In Moscow, wastewater tests continue to show increased concentrations of the Delta variant, which is spreading much faster than the original COVID-19 Alpha strain. In addition, the CDC has reported that those infected with the COVID-19 Delta variant are more likely to be hospitalized than patients infected with other variants, including the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma strains.

Bill Lambert, Mayor of the City of Moscow, Idaho, issued an advisory proclamation on Sep. 24, 2021, encouraging community members and businesses to do their part to help prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19.  

Lambert’s proclamation encourages the following: 

  • All eligible individuals, please choose to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
  • Follow the recommendations of our health care experts by: 
    • Getting vaccinated.
    • Wearing face coverings indoors when you cannot maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from those not in your household.
    • Frequently washing or sanitizing your hands.
  • Follow the guidelines specific to your situation and your business type provided by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Public Health-Idaho North Central District, and the CDC.

Mayor Lambert explains, “Let’s set aside our political differences and beliefs to unite as a community, to make the choice to do our part to protect ourselves, our community members, to support our community partners and businesses, and to keep our kids in school.”

In support of the proclamation, effective Fri. Sep. 24 masks are required in all City facilities for employees and the general public.

Community concerns and recent developments that prompted the issuance of the Mayor’s advisory proclamation include the following: 

  • Sep. 1, 2021, the Moscow School District opened its doors for five (5) days a week of in-person instruction with the requirement of wearing face coverings within their buildings. As a result, the schools to date have reported zero (0) in-building transmissions and have been able to remain open. The Moscow School District Board of Trustees voted to retain the requirement to wear face coverings throughout the first semester of the school year.
  • Sep. 6, 2021, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen declared that conditions exist in Public Health Districts 1 and 2 to activate crisis standards of care. The conditions in North Idaho, specifically at Kootenai Health in Coeur d’ Alene, were identified as particularly dire.
  • Sep. 7, 2021, Gritman Medical Center issued a statement indicating it has not moved to Crisis Standards of Care at this time.  
    • Gritman has established a dedicated COVID-19 patient care unit in its hospital, which has been at capacity on several occasions. 
    • Gritman has reported the vast majority of its hospitalized and seriously ill COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. 
    • Gritman strongly recommends choosing to receive the vaccine to protect yourself, wearing a mask, washing your hands, keeping social distance, and limiting gatherings with those outside your immediate household as effective methods to help slow the spread.

COVID-19 was first declared a public health emergency of international concern on Jan. 30, 2020, by the World Health Organization (WHO). On Mar. 11, 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The pandemic continues to threaten all in our community, including health care systems and schools. The vaccine for COVID-19 was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Aug. 23, 2021, and is considered the most effective tool to manage COVID-19.

Information below includes local data counts from the City of Moscow's Water Reuse and Reclamation Facility, Gritman Medical Center, and the Idaho North Central Health District Department.

COVID Regional Wastewater Testing Program

Since July 2020, the City of Moscow Water Reuse and Reclamation Facility has partnered with the University of Idaho Biological Sciences and Civil & Environmental Engineering Departments, in partnership with the Institute for Modeling Collaboration and Interaction, to coordinate a regional wastewater testing program to monitor wastewater for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Prior to the U of I partnership, the City worked with Biobot Analytics, Inc. beginning in May 2020. 

Results shown in the graph here present the concentration of the COVID-19 viral fragments found in Moscow's wastewater from January 2020 to present. The Moscow Water Reclamation and Reuse Facility serves the area within Moscow City limits and the Southeast Moscow Sewer District located just outside of Moscow's east city limit boundary. These viral fragments are shed from infected individuals at or even before symptoms' onset. Viral fragments are also shed from individuals who never show symptoms. Because it detects both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections, wastewater-based detection provides an agnostic assessment of SARS-CoV-2 circulation in a community. However, wastewater testing does not provide a method to determine the number of infected people, as people shed the virus at different rates and the wastewater concentration is affected by changes in flows and dilution such as a significant rain event. What we can determine from the chart, however, is the changing rate of infection in our community. A comparison of infection rates – based on clinical test results – to the wastewater test results shows the concentration of viral fragments in wastewater increase at the same time or in advance of the community experiencing an increase of infection rates. In short, the wastewater studies provide a complementary surveillance to monitor the spread of the virus in our community; results can help community leaders and health care providers in making more proactive decisions to protect the community.

UI COVID Wastewater Test Plot

Gritman Report
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