Wastewater Additional Data FAQs
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Wastewater monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is a meaningful way to show community-level infection trends over time. Several watershed sites throughout SLO County currently perform wastewater monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 at regular intervals. We are grateful to these sites for their work and partnership in understanding SARS-CoV-2 trends in SLO County. Wastewater data for each site is typically updated weekly on Fridays; however, individual sites may experience occasional reporting delays. Learn more about how wastewater monitoring works.
Data will likely continue to be limited in the weeks ahead due to laboratory transitions that affect local wastewater surveillance sites. Sites in South County, Los Osos and Cambria are currently paused in reporting. Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo sites use different laboratories and methodologies and expect to continue providing consistent data. Stay tuned for updates.
Variants, Vaccinations & Respiratory Virus Dashboard
Find data on COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths, variants and vaccinations via the links below.
The California Department of Public Health dashboard that provided data on COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths has been re-launched to focus on state-level data for COVID-19, influenza, and RSV. This dashboard offers a wealth of meaningful information at the link below. Stay tuned for updates to our local dashboard in light of this State transition.
To see an archive of our previous dashboard, please use the link below. It was last updated on September 21, 2022.
See the previous dashboard
Other COVID-19 Dashboards
Other COVID-19 dashboards exist at the local, state and national levels:
How often is this dashboard updated?
Graphs on this dashboard are generally updated weekly on Fridays. Some wastewater surveillance sites may have weeks when they are unable to report.
Why did you change the dashboard?
The primary goal of the dashboard is to provide meaningful local COVID-19 information that is not available elsewhere. At this stage in the pandemic, that is the information captured through our local wastewater surveillance network. This most recent set of changes (in summer 2023) has been prompted in part by surveillance changes at the state and national levels following the end of the federal declaration of emergency for COVID-19.
Why are you no longer reporting case numbers, in total or by location?
As unreported home testing has now become the norm, individual case counts confirmed by laboratory-based PCR tests—the central element of many COVID-19 dashboards for much of the pandemic, including our local dashboard—are no longer a meaningful data point for understanding COVID-19 in the community. This change has occurred throughout local, state, and national reporting systems.
The dashboard now focuses instead on local wastewater data. While not a measure of individual cases, wastewater is now an important tool in understanding total impact on a community and whether the detectable amount of virus in a sampling zone is going up, going down, or staying about the same. The dashboard features wastewater data from several locations in SLO County. We are actively working with state and local officials and with Cal Poly on efforts to expand wastewater data to other parts of the county.
How does wastewater testing work?
Environmental monitoring of wastewater is an important tool in understanding the total impact of COVID-19 in our community. In SLO County, we are fortunate to have multiple watershed sites currently performing wastewater monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 at regular intervals. Technicians gather samples from a wastewater treatment facility and the samples are then analyzed in a lab to determine the concentration of virus present. Samples are representative of the area served by the particular treatment plant. Samples may reflect infections among people who have COVID-19 symptoms as well as those who do not have symptoms or are just developing early, mild symptoms and have not yet tested.
While wastewater cannot detect the number of people who are currently infected with COVID-19, it is an indicator of changes in community-level transmission. This means that wastewater testing can be used to detect general trends: whether the detectable amount of virus in a sampling zone is going up, going down, or staying about the same.
While wastewater monitoring for disease presence is not a new method (it has been used for nearly 70 years) it is newer to SLO County. Amongst many other advantages, wastewater monitoring is unbiased, non-invasive, inclusive, inexpensive, and provides insights into changes in community-level infection. Find more information about wastewater monitoring from the California Department of Public Health.
Where can I find the previous COVID-19 dashboard?
The previous dashboard was last updated on September 21, 2022. It can still be found as an archive.
We are working hard to provide relevant and meaningful information on the COVID-19 pandemic in SLO County, and we welcome feedback and questions. While we do not have the capacity to provide data in response to each individual request, we appreciate the input and will update the information we provide as resources allow. If you have questions or comments about the data displayed, please contact us.