People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report


The Weather

Wastewater levels continue to rise in most of the country. As the most recent week’s biobot data are subject to change, we will focus on the data from last week, August 9th. We are making this change in how we present the Biobot data after noticing that post hoc adjustments Biobot makes to its data can change the appearance of wastewater trends significantly (for example, from upward to downward trends and vice versa). Differences can also be caused by changes in wastewater site reporting practices, or from errors in the mathematical models used to create the reported value. 

Using August 9th data, all regions show an increase since July 19, continuing an overall increasing trend since mid-June. 

Title reads “COVID-19 Wastewater Levels August 20, 2023.” Text box reads: “The most recent data shown in Biobot are subject to change as additional wastewater sites report in. These changes may affect week-to-week trends. To improve reporting consistency in this and future reports, the Weather Report will display the numerical data for the second-to-last data point.” There is a table of data of viral copies per mL from 8/9/23, as it was captured on both 8/15 and 8/20/23 each shown by region. The Midwest numbers are the highest (666 and 563 for respective dates of data capture), followed by nationwide (431 and 490), Northeast (419 and 497), South (409 and 481), and West (392 and 458). A map of the United States below the table shows the West is green, Midwest is purple, South is pink, and Northeast is orange. A line graph on the bottom is titled “Wastewater: Effective SARS-CoV-2 virus concentration (copies/mL of sewage),” from Mar 2023 through Aug 2023. The line graph shows X-axis labels March ‘23 to Aug ‘23 with regional virus concentrations showing a decrease in all regions from March to mid-June, but rising from mid June to August nationwide. The Midwest shows a spike as of 8/9 reported data (shown with a black arrow), but returns to a value on par with other regions as of 8/16 provisional data (shown with white arrow).
Graphic source: Biobot Analytics

As always, remember that local wastewater levels, if they are available to you, will give you a much better sense of what’s happening where you are than the national data. 

For example, you can see that the COVID wastewater level in Duplin County, NC is below the national average (shown in a faint dotted line) and appears to be trending downward. Alameda County, CA, Henry County, VA, and Butler County, PA, on the other hand, are all making sharp upward spikes. Note the y-axis: in Alameda County, the upward trend follows along the national average line whereas the others far exceed the national average. 

Title reads: “Local Wastewater Levels August 16, 2023.” Four line graphs show wastewater levels, a solid blue line, in four counties across the United States from February 2023 to August 2023. Each graph compares the county-level data to the national average, which is represented by a dotted blue line. The top left graph is titled “Duplin County, NC,” and shows a peak in May 2023, with current levels decreasing. The top right graph is titled “Alameda County, CA,” and shows a peak in May 2023, with current levels rising sharply. The lower left graph is titled “Henry County, VA,” and shows lower levels from February 2023 to August 2023, with current levels rising sharply. The lower right graph is titled “Butler County, PA,” with peaks in March 2023 and April 2023, with current levels rising sharply. 

During this month’s People’s CDC Webinar on Wastewater on August 10th, Marc Johnson, PhD explained that “The best thing is to look at each sewer shed compared to itself. So the best thing is to look at that sewer shed over time and don’t say how high is my number compared to Boston; [instead] say how high is my number now compared to where it was this spring or last summer. Or, compare it to when you know things were bad.”

You can look for your local wastewater information at Biobot Analytics, The Wastewater SCAN Dashboard, or CDC’s National Wastewater Surveillance System

If you don’t have local wastewater data, call or write your representatives and tell them you want it! According to Dr. Johnson, “if you let them know that this is important, then usually they’re perfectly happy to keep doing it.”


Nationally, COVID hospitalizations continue to increase

Title reads: “COVID-19 New Hospital Admissions, by Week, in The United States, Reported to CDC.” A bar graph shows a y-axis of weekly COVID new Hospital admissions ranging from 0 to 45,000 and an x-axis of dates ranging from Jan 7, ‘23 to Aug 12, ‘23. Weekly hospital admissions peaked in January 2023 at about 45,000 admissions, trending downward to about 6,300 in June 24, 2023, and increasing to 10,000 on August 12, 2023. 
Graphic source: CDC COVID Data Tracker

Again, it’s important to check out what’s happening locally to better understand your individual and communal risk. In New York, for example, where The City continues to report on the local COVID situation, we see steep increases in hospitalizations. 

Title reads “Patients currently hospitalized with COVID in NYC.” The line graph shows patients currently in intensive care units and total patients hospitalized with COVID in New York City. A legend at the top shows ICU in blue and Total hospitalized in light blue. The y-axis details the number of patients ranging from 0 to 400. The line graph shows x-axis labels Jun 1 through Aug 1 with total hospitalized decreasing from 225 patients in late May 2023 to 155 in July 2023, and increasing across July and August to 428 patients on August 17. Patients in ICU decreased slowly from late May to late June to 14 patients and increased steadily between July and August with 41 patients on August 17. 
Graphics source: The City: Coronavirus in New York City

We also see that, of the patients hospitalized with COVID, many have been admitted for something other than COVID. To a certain extent, this can be attributed to a lack of clarity on reporting guidance. But it is also likely that folks admitted with one problem are catching COVID in the hospital, a predictable result of removing mask requirements within the hospital setting. Without more robust and clearer COVID reporting requirements, we can’t be sure what is really happening in hospitals.

Title reads “Patients hospitalized with COVID in NYC admitted for COVID.” The area graph shows New York City patients hospitalized with COVID and admitted for COVID and hospitalized with COVID and admitted for other reasons. A legend at the top shows Admitted for COVID in blue and Admitted for other in light blue. The y-axis details number of patients ranging from 0 to 400. The graph shows x-axis labels Jun 1 through Aug 1 with patients admitted for COVID peaking in mid June at 98 patients and trending downward to 58 patients in mid July, and increasing to 176 in mid August. Patients admitted for other shows a similar trend with patients peaking at 146 in late May, trending downward to 89 patients in late June, and increasing to 252 patients in mid August. 
Graphics source: The City: Coronavirus in New York City

The numbers of deaths attributed to COVID, surely undercounted, are also steadily increasing, which correlates with the increasing hospitalizations and wastewater data trends. Since the start of 2023, over 1 million people have died from COVID. You can find CDC’s COVID death data and resources here. But, keep an eye out for an explainer from our team about why we no longer routinely report CDC’s death data in our Weather Report.


Pasadena, CA continues to keep masking in healthcare settings, and other hospitals are responding to the current increases in hospitalizations by reinstating mitigation measures. Upstate University Hospital in New York, for example, reimplemented masking and expanded COVID testing policies

The Arabic Music Retreat (held at Mount Holyoke College in MA) has made clear that they’re centering community care with robust COVID mitigation measures for their event this year. 


Long COVID Justice and Ed Yong have created a paywall-free PDF and audio recording of his recent article, “Fatigue Can Shatter a Person: Everyday tiredness is nothing like the depleting symptom that people with long COVID and ME/CFS experience.” You can access them here – see the 3rd and 4th links from the top).

Aqua background with white text box with black text that says “Fatigue Can Shatter a Person: Everyday tiredness is nothing like the depleting symptom that people with long COVID and ME/CFS experience. By Ed Yong.” Below this is an illustration of people in various positions of running and resting in a grassy area by a setting sun, with stars and moon in a blue and purple sky. Below is another white text box with the logo of “The Atlantic” magazine and an artist credit to María Medem. Overlaid across the illustration is a yellow box with wavy borders and blue text that says “NEW! Read the full article for free + audio version read by the author! Links in bio.” Decorative background elements include circles made of wavy lines in shades of light aqua and yellow.
Graphics source: Long COVID Justice


Without robust surveillance, it is hard to understand how bad the current surge is, how bad it will get, and how long it will last. Certainly, it does not bode well that school is starting, that masking has been widely abandoned, and that updated vaccines will not be available for at least another month. 

In preparation for the new school year, the EPA and the Efficient and Healthy Schools Program are hosting a webinar on reducing airborne infection risks on August 23 at 1:00pm EST. Learn more and register here

Take Action:

As rates continue to increase, and as we’re seeing some hospitals make the change to reinstate making, you can call your local hospitals and healthcare systems to demand masking be reinstated in healthcare settings. We previously provided resources with some language you can use here.

National Nurses United shared the following statement on the CDC HICPAC vote: “CDC/HICPAC has decided to delay the vote on HICPAC’s terrible, weakened proposals to update the Isolations Precautions guidance—a victory for sure!! But it’s not nearly enough. The fact remains that the process is still happening behind closed doors! CDC/HICPAC hasn’t released the proposed updates, working group meetings are still closed to the public, and our requests for their evidence review have been denied. The vote delay gives CDC/HICPAC more time to properly engage stakeholders, and we need to make sure they hear this loud and clear.”

Please attend the meeting on Tuesday, 8/12/23 at 12pm ET at this Zoom link (Meeting ID: 161 532 2622; Passcode: 36073986). Show up and have your voice heard, in support of evidence-based guidance supporting public health measures that keep us all safe. It is time for the CDC to put people over profits, and they must be held accountable.

Are you interested in being part of a remote portrait project of immunocompromised Americans as a response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant loss of civil rights for disabled people to participate in public life? Participation would be compensated ($100). Please reach out to

Notes: 1) The numbers in this report were current as of 8/19/2023. 2) Changes in testing access as well as data reporting have led many federal data sources to become less reliable. 3) Check out the links throughout & see our website for more!

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