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The Nebraska Infectious Disease Society urges state DHHS to release wastewater data

'Turns out that monitoring wastewater streams — sewage— for viruses is an effective way to how much viruses circulating in the community, specifically for the virus that causes COVID-19.'
Posted at 6:48 PM, Sep 05, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Nebraska Infectious Disease Society (NIDS) is a group of infectious disease specialists from across the state, who want to see wastewater system data become available to the public.

This is after the state took away access in August for all Nebraskans, including healthcare professionals.

Dr. James Lawler with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) is a part of NIDS and strongly believes the information on the dashboard is vital for the community.

"Turns out that monitoring wastewater streams — sewage — for viruses is an effective way to (see) how much viruses (are) circulating in the community. Specifically for the virus that causes COVID-19," he said.

Lawler also said the system is the most accurate way to test and the only way to see COVID-19 trends in real time.

"Obviously those are important information feeds for health professionals to make decisions but also for individual Nebraskans to understand their level of risk and to be able to take actions to protect themselves and their families," he said.

Because testing for COVID-19 is much less frequent now, Lawler said wastewater monitoring is the best way high-risk members and families can get reliable COVID-19 updates. Especially now that COVID-19 activity is rising.

"The disease is still unfortunately resulting in hospitalizations and deaths and in the last year. In the last twelve months in Nebraska, we've lost about 500 Nebraskans to the disease."

Counties in Nebraska are still monitoring wastewater, including looking to see which strains are circulating. NIDS would just like to make that data public again.

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