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Orange Co. wastewater surveillance reveals high levels of COVID-19 concentration in Northwest facility


Editor's note and article update, August 13, 2021, 2:46pm: The Apopka Voice reached out to the Orange County Utilities Department and spoke with Sarah Lux, the Public Information Officer regarding COVID-19 in the wastewater. Specifically we asked if a person could get COVID-19 via the reclaimed water, and she answered "No - no virus remains in the water after it is treated." She went on to explain that even the raw wastewater only has "dead, non-viable fragments" of COVID-19, which, even in the raw form would not transmit the virus to people. She explained that the raw wastewater is then "heavily treated" and is "extremely clean", so not even the dead, non-viable fragments are in the water by the time it gets to a property to be used as reclaimed water for irrigation.

From the Orange County Newsroom

The Florida Department of Health is reporting that Orange County’s 14-day rolling positivity rate is 20.83%, as of Wednesday, August 4, 2021. Additional County statistics include:

CDC level of community transmission: HIGH

Eligible residents (12+) who have one vaccine dose: 63.43%

Single-day positivity rate for Wednesday, August 4, 2021: 19.10%

Total positive cases for Orange County residents: 173,503

Total deaths in Orange County: 1,417


Orange County Government’s Utilities Department is participating in the National Wastewater Surveillance System. The program monitors wastewater from water reclamation facilities to analyze the concentration and spread of the coronavirus. The concentrations tested reflect both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections, alerting to spikes in infections four-to-ten days before positive case numbers would be available. Below is information from last week:

Northwest Water Reclamation Facility

Concentrations have increased from 154,243 in June, to 2,595,699 on July 26. This is a 1,583% increase in approximately a 6-week timeframe.

Eastern Water Reclamation Facility

Concentrations have increased from 267,916 in May, to 4,832,793 on July 26. This is a 1,704% increase in approximately an 11-week timeframe.

Southern Water Reclamation Facility

Concentrations have increased from 149,113 in May, to 1,107,822 on July 26. This is a 643% increase in approximately an 11-week timeframe.


Earlier this week, the federal government and the CDC have issued new temporary protections from evictions. The order is in effect until Sunday, October 3, 2021.

Residents who are seeking to apply for this temporary protection must complete and submit a CDC declaration form and submit it to their landlord or property management company as soon as possible.


Orange County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program is still open. Although the CDC moratorium has been extended, Orange County residents are urged to review the program details if they are behind in rent due to the pandemic. The program may be able to help eligible residents pay up to 12 months of past due rent and 1 month of future rent, up to a total of $20,000. As of Wednesday, August 5, 2021, more than $5.9 million have been distributed to keep 1,071 families in their homes.

Residents can visit ocfl.net/RentalAssistance to review program details and to check if their address is eligible.


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