HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The City of Houston studies wastewater at 39 treatment plants to determine how prevalent COVID-19 is in the city.
Current levels show an 11% positivity rate, with many areas of the city trending upward in positive cases.
"We are seeing a consistent uptick in the amount of COVID in the wastewater," said Dr. Linda Yancey, an infectious disease specialist at Memorial Hermann Health System. "We're not entirely sure why, after a nice little lull, we're having another uptick."
Yancey says the COVID strain going around right now is omicron and its variants, which she says are more contagious but less severe than previous variants.
"It causes a much less-severe disease than delta did last year," Yancey said. "It mostly causes upper-respiratory symptoms."
Yancey says COVID strains that go after the lungs lead to more hospitalizations and deaths, though she warned it's not unheard of for omicron to send patients to the hospital.
"We are not seeing a huge uptick in hospital cases - that being said, we absolutely have people in the hospital right now, and we absolutely have COVID patients on ventilators," Yancey explained. "But nowhere near the numbers, we had when we were dealing with the delta surge."
So what is Yancey's outlook for the summer months? It's fairly positive, but she included the possibility of things changing.
"We're estimating we're going to see a rise in cases, but we're not anticipating a surge," she said. "Now, there could be a new variant around the corner, and all bets are off if that happens."
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