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After a steady decline in Covid-19 cases in Monterey County since January's sharp spike during the omicron surge, the case and test positivity rates are again climbing upward due to a more contagious subvariant, BA.2.

On April 14, the county's case rate hit a low of 3.7 cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day average. As of Tuesday, May 3, the case rate is 9.8, according the the California Department of Public Health.

(The Weekly is using state data for number of cases, case rate and deaths. The Monterey County Health Department stated on its website that as of May 2, data shown for new cases and new deaths are incorrect. They expect the issue to be fixed by May 5. State data shows the totals to be lower.)

In the past week there were 157 new cases recorded, bringing the grand total of known cases in Monterey County since the start of the pandemic to 80,038. That equals approximately 18 percent of the county's population. 

The county is reporting that as of May 2, test positivity is up from 3.3 percent the previous week to 4.7 percent. 

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Only one new death was recorded by the state, bringing the total to 732. Hospitalizations were reported as eight, with no change from a week prior. 

With the proliferation of home tests, the number of cases in Monterey County is likely higher. Monterey County epidemiologist Kristy Michie told the Weekly in early April that the county is shifting how it assesses the population's risk. They are putting less emphasis on case rates and test positivity and looking more closely at hospitalizations and wastewater monitoring data, along with tracking patients who enter hospitals and clinics with respiratory symptoms.

The two wastewater plants the county relies on, the Carmel Area Wastewater District and Watsonville Wastewater Treatment Facility, are showing upticks in the presence of the Covid virus in sewage in late April.

Between April 19 and April 26, the number of copies of effective virus concentration rose from 93,737 to 212,333 at the Carmel wastewater plant. A Massachusetts-based company called Biobot Analytics performs an analysis on weekly samples and reports are listed on the district's website.

The Watsonville plant's numbers are recorded on the Centers for Disease Control national wastewater tracker. The CDC chart also shows an upward trend in the amount of virus detected starting in mid-April.

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