RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Here's the latest news and information on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.
WEDNESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Durham Public Schools relax some masking requirements Wednesday.
Many neighboring districts have loosened mask mandates for students and staff, but DPS has been more cautious. The district will now allow everyone to drop the masks while outside. However, students and staff need to keep the masks on while inside at all times.
At athletic events, DPS high schools can now fill the stands to 75 percent capacity. Middle schools can allow up to 150 spectators.
All spectators at sporting events are required to wear masks.
When the coronavirus receded across much of the globe last month and the omicron surge declined, many Americans were hopeful that was perhaps the signal that the United States was entering a new phase of the pandemic.
However, new data indicators, domestically and internationally, suggest that the virus continues to spread.
Although official counts of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are still declining, new wastewater data updated this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the United States may be seeing the beginnings of an uptick in COVID-19 infections.
Between Feb. 24 and March 10, 37% of wastewater sites that are monitored by the CDC have seen an increase of 100% or more in the presence of the COVID-19 virus in their wastewater. Approximately 30% of these sites have seen an increase of 1,000% or more.
"It is likely we will see a new rise in cases across the United States as our wastewater data is showing a concerning signal," said Rebecca Weintraub, assistant professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Now is a key moment to communicate why we need to accelerate the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine, remind communities why boosters are needed, secure an ongoing supply of tests and N95 to communities -- especially the red zones."
Throughout the pandemic, wastewater surveillance has been a tool used as a preliminary indicator of COVID-19 trends in the U.S.
Because asymptomatic patients can shed the virus, wastewater surveillance can capture infections that may not have been identified in official counts. In addition, many Americans are taking at-home COVID-19 tests and are not reporting their results to officials, and thus, experts say, infection totals are likely undercounted.
Wastewater data is sparse across the country, but indicators show some sites in the Northeast, including in New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, as well as across Ohio, have seen notable increases in the presence of COVID-19 in local wastewater.
In New York City, some sites saw a 50% increase in the presence of COVID-19 in the city's wastewater.
TUESAY MORNING HEADLINES
New wastewater data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. may be seeing the beginnings of an uptick in COVID-19 infections.
CDC found a 100 percent or higher increase of COVID-19 detections at 37 percent of wastewater sites between Feb. 24 and March 10.
Sites in the northeast have seen the most notable increases.
This comes as the White House warns Congress it will be forced to stop critical COVID-19 response efforts without more funding.
Last month the White House asked for $30 billion to combat future variants of the virus with vaccines, treatments, testing and care for uninsured people. That request was dropped from a spending bill last week.
Without it, the Biden administration said it will have to scale back testing and could soon run out of essential drugs used to treat COVID-19.