DOO TELL: This color-coded map shows coronavirus detected in sewage systems across the metro region. Darker blue colors indicate coronavirus levels that show a receding trend. Lighter blue show stable or increasing levels. Pink and red show rising levels of detected coronavirus, indicative of an increase in infections. (Colorado Department of Health)

On Monday, President Joe Biden called the COVID emergency over. Meanwhile, 1,773 Americans died from it the previous week, including seven in Colorado.

Weird, huh?

While digging through stuff unsettled during a recent move of the Sentinel newsroom, I came across this story we ran Jan. 7, 2020.

“The disease — an unidentified form of viral pneumonia — has sent 59 people to the hospital in the mainland Chinese city of Wuhan, in central Hubei province. As of Sunday, seven were in critical condition, while the rest were stable. Municipal authorities have ruled out SARS, the severe acute respiratory syndrome that killed 700 people in 2002 and 2003.”

We had no idea.

It just seemed remarkable that Hong Kong would immediately cut transportation ties with the mainland over a “mystery illness.”

Just a couple of weeks later, the U.S. government was evacuating American citizens out of the region as the Chinese government began “locking down” tens of millions of people.

In the Jan. 21, 2020 Sentinel, “The U.S. on Tuesday reported its first case of a new and potentially deadly virus circulating in China…”

Ominously, the story ended with the Center for Disease Control’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier saying health officials “expected to see more cases in the U.S. and around the world in the coming days.”

Indeed, we did.

It seems like decades ago that then President Trump called the pandemic a “new hoax” invoked by Democrats. He was incensed because the building tsunami of coronavirus deaths worldwide was beginning to monopolize the nation’s attention.

Almost two months into the pandemic, Trump was telling Americans this was like a “seasonal flu,” and that the press had gone into “hysteria mode.”

It wasn’t hysteria that killed 1,118,800 Americans, among the 102,873,924 confirmed COVID cases so far.

So many lives were lost, and the world economy is still in ruins, directly and indirectly from the effects of the pandemic.

The news about the pandemic is infinitely better now than it was just two years ago. An astonishing 230,368,815 Americans, about 70 percent of the population, are fully vaccinated against what used to be called the “novel coronavirus.”

The battles over saving lives with mask mandates have faded, but not the scars.

Hundreds of thousands of kids across the state are struggling in school from having fallen behind or fallen in the grips of widespread public and private mental malaise.

Taxpayers in the Aurora region can expect to be on the hook for millions of extra dollars a year because of the demise of the Tri-County Health Department.

Tri-County was a casualty of pandemic politics. Far-right elected officials from Douglas County were swimming in the Trump “new hoax” Kool-Aid as the pandemic spread. Despite thousands being sickened and dying around them, DougCo members of the Tri-County health board demanded to abandon the three-county, decades-old government marvel so no one could force their residents to wear a mask, no matter what the science said.

That really happened.

What the real science tells us now is that COVID is anything but gone. Healthcare providers are still recording and treating cases of COVID, but with high vaccination rates and effective antiviral drugs, hospitalizations and deaths are nothing like they were before the onset of the vaccines.

But “nothing” isn’t what continues to send people to the hospitals and the morgues. It’s COVID.

Rather than depending on nose samples, scientists are instead monitoring the level of infection by measuring virus components in the region’s “sewershed” system.

Scientists can not only accurately measure coronavirus fragments from human stool as it washes into sewage treatment facilities, but they can even determine what variants of coronavirus are prevalent.

Doo tell?

Maps reveal relative infection hot spots across the state. And repeated studies have confirmed the correlation between sewershed test increases and documented increased cases of COVID.

It all means that in Douglas County, Aurora and other neighboring communities, a number of coronavirus variants are circulating among us, causing infections, illness and even death. In fact, recent state results show varying levels of infection across the state, some rising.

No hoax. No joke.

So while the U.S. government emergency may be over, the pandemic is not. If you mingle or travel, especially without a self-protective mask, expect to be infected or reinfected.

Like former experts of Tri-County Health pointed out, we’ve tired of the virus, but it’s not at all tired of us.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Mastodon, Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or

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1 Comment

  1. COVID in wastewater tells us something — but showing rising and falling rates on a particular sewer system isn’t especially meaningful.

    For example: looking at Colorado COVID Wastewater Monitoring Data Trends
    Last Updated April 21, 2023

    Aurora, in the light blue of a “Plateau” region, is at 94.4k copies/L.
    Berthoud, in the red of “Increase”, is at 29.5k copies/L.
    CO Springs – JD Phillips, in the dark blue of a “Steady Decrease”, is at 109.8k copies/L.

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