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The City of Moscow wastewater testing program has identified the presence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in recent test results.
According to Carol Moehrle, Director for Public Health-Idaho North Central District, “As of today, Public Health has received no confirmation of the Omicron variant in human lab samples, however, with other cases of Omicron in the Northwest and Boise area, we know it is just a matter of time before it is lab-confirmed as well. Because it is not feasible to test every lab specimen for COVID variants, it could be possible that a case could go unnoticed or that a 2-3-week delay to obtain genetic sequencing could preclude knowing about a current COVID-19 variant immediately.”
The City of Moscow began testing wastewater for the presence of COVID-19 in May of 2020. As COVID-19 variants spread in the U.S., the City also initiated a variant testing routine, with the first results received on Apr. 13, 2021. These tests also indicate the different variants present in the wastewater samples, including the United Kingdom (U.K.) and California variants in early 2021, the Delta variant during the summer of 2021, and now the Omicron variant.
Public Health-Idaho North Central District also recommends prevention as the key to stopping the spread. The same mitigation strategies remain the best practice for all COVID variants:
The City will continue to adhere to Stage 4 of the State of Idaho - Idaho Rebounds Plan. Stage 4 includes guidance for in-person business as usual with adherence to appropriate sanitizing and physical distancing requirements, including requirements for gatherings. Face coverings are strongly recommended per the CDC and are required at long-term care facilities. The City of Moscow is not requiring masks for City employees or the community. Conversations will continue with community partners, including the Public Health - Idaho North Central District, to be aware of cases in the area.