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Small Amount Of UK Variant Detected In Yosemite Wastewater

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Yosemite, CA — As part of COVID-19 monitoring, Mariposa County tests the wastewater in Yosemite National Park weekly.

It has been done throughout the past year as part of a federal Epidemiology, Laboratory and Informatics (ELC) grant. In a first for the region, Mariposa Health Officer, Dr. Eric Sergienko says a small amount of the UK COVID-19 variant was just detected. The variant does not increase the disease severity, but it is considered much more contagious.

Dr. Sergienko says, “Given the low amount that was in the wastewater, it was probably from a visitor to the park.“

Most people in Yosemite are recreating outdoors, where COVID is far less contagious.

Adding, “While it shouldn’t be surprising, I think it is important for people to recognize that it is out there, and it is another reason to get vaccinated. I think it is also a good reason to keep social distancing, and non-pharmaceutical interventions, like wearing a mask, and to stay home if you are sick.”

Dr. Sergienko says they test the wastewater in Yosemite is to find out how prevalent COVID is, as most people would leave the park before seeking medical attention, making monitoring more difficult.

Dr. Sergienko, who is also Tuolumne County’s Interim Health Officer, also stated this morning that the COVID-19 testing site at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds will be reduced to three days a week beginning April 25. It is due to a lack of demand for testing as more people are getting vaccinated. It will be open 7am-7pm, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Dr. Sergienko still encourages people to get tested, especially if traveling outside the area.