The Anne Arundel County Department of Health released data from the wastewater monitoring program, which detected an increase in SARS-CoV-2 levels this past month. People with COVID-19 can shed the virus in their feces. The concentration of COVID-19 in the wastewater measures the presence of the virus, whether a resident has symptoms or not. This news comes as the county moved into the medium category of the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Level.
The Department of Health, in partnership with the County’s Department of Public Works wastewater monitoring program, tests seven of the county-operated wastewater treatment plants. This has proven to be an accurate indicator of rising and falling COVID-19 community transmission levels. This program can collect data from anyone shedding the virus into the sewage system.
Wastewater samples are collected twice a week from treatment plants across the county. Over the past few weeks, there have been sustained increases in COVID-19 activity in four locations, Cox Creek, Patuxent, Broadneck, and Broadwater. The data also shows higher wastewater detection levels where vaccination rates are lower.
“Wastewater monitoring has become even more important with the rise of at-home tests, which are not required to be reported and therefore many don’t show up in official case counts,” Dr. Tonii Gedin, the Anne Arundel County Deputy Health Officer of Public Health said. “The current rise in COVID-19 is an important reminder for everyone eligible to vaccinate against COVID-19, including the updated booster. Updated boosters are now available for everyone over six months old.”
Sources: AACO Dept. of Health, CDC and Coronavirus.maryland.gov