KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- The Kansas City Health Department reports cases of COVID-19 have tripled in the past 30 days, mostly due to the Delta variant.

This is not a surprise to a microbiologist working for the state of Missouri. Marc Johnson predicted this.

Johnson studies wastewater and the viral loads Missourians flush down toilets. It’s been one of the most accurate predictors in the pandemic.

Johnson pinpointed that the first place the Delta variant was detected was in Branson. It then travelled to Licking, Missouri and Lynn County.

The variant did not behave the same way earlier variants did. In fact, just the opposite. While the UK, or Alpha, variant started in big cities then moved to rural areas, the Delta started in rural areas and moved to cities.

"It is just so highly contagious,” said Johnson. “It seems that it took over pretty much the whole state about in about three weeks.”

Numbers were updated over the weekend. A red triangle means the viral load is growing

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In Kansas City, you can get information down to each watershed. Westside, Kansas City, Birmingham, Liberty and Fishing River are all increasing

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The only areas staying flat are North, Platte City, Todd Creek and Rocky Branch.

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“Once it starts, it just has been rising,” said Johnson. “Places it was first were like Joplin and Springfield and, the last time I checked, their numbers are still going up. They haven't reached a plateau yet.”

Johnson draws attention to Columbia, Missouri, in Boone County. It boasts the highest vaccination rate in the state, but that area is also struggling with the Delta variant.

“I think the message that not everyone is getting is that this pandemic is going to be over when everyone has either been infected or vaccinated,” said Johnson.

While other variants have fizzled out, Johnson said the delta variant just keeps spreading.

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