NEWS: COVID-19 “Stealth” Variant On the Rise in Central Florida Wastewater

As the situation with COVID-19 continues to change and develop, AllEars will be bringing you the latest relevant news that could affect a theme park visit.

Disney World has been slowly returning to a new level of “normal” as COVID-19 cases decreased in the last month. Disney recently changed their mask policy for select transportation, and masks are no longer required to be worn indoors by fully vaccinated individuals.

Former mask signage in Disney World

However, last month, we discussed how the BA.2 Omicron subvariant (also known as the “stealth” variant) has become the dominant COVID-19 variant in the United States, and now Central Florida is being impacted as cases have begun to rise again.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, cases of COVID-19 are increasing in Central Florida and in the United States. Altamonte Springs, a city located in Seminole County near Disney World, has reported an increase of COVID-19 in wastewater, which is also how the rise of Omicron was identified back in December 2021. Gene copies of COVID-19 can be found in wastewater as a result of infected or recently infected people.

©Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz

The Altamonte Springs sewage services cover parts of both Orange (part of where Disney World is located) and Seminole Counties, and they reported a 1,661% increase in COVID-19 gene copies between March 10th and April 7th. Also, three of Orange County’s wastewater services identified an increase in COVID-19 gene copies as of April 7th, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel.

Disney World Face Mask

The majority of COVID-19 gene copies in the Central Florida wastewater have been identified as BA.2, of which cases have been rising in the U.S. Additionally, The New York Times has reported that Florida has seen a 34% increase in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks.

Health and safety changes happened frequently.

The Orlando Sentinel noted that all Florida counties are classified as low transmission according to the CDC’s current criteria, although the old criteria would have classified many Florida counties as moderate transmission at this time, which would have also recommended the use of face masks.

We’ll be watching closely for updates on this developing situation, so stay tuned to AllEars for more news that could impact your next visit to Central Florida.

Read more about the prevalence of the BA.2 COVID-19 variant here.

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2 Replies to “NEWS: COVID-19 “Stealth” Variant On the Rise in Central Florida Wastewater”

    1. Wastewater testing offers Public Health specialists to monitor rates of infection within a community. It’s not the waste water that is spreading COVID. It’s simply a tool for data collection.