"In a new effort to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, a network across Ohio is studying samples of wastewater (aka sewage) to look for the presence of gene copies/fragments of the virus that causes the disease. The initiative is a collaboration between the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), the Ohio Water Resources Center (Ohio WRC) at The Ohio State University, and other participating universities, including The University of Toledo, Kent State University, and The University of Akron. As the network expands, sampling and analysis will include other universities with laboratory capabilities." - Ohio Department of Health
The City of Wooster is participating with wastewater (aka sewage) sampling under this program. The test results from November 1 indicated an increase in the viral load compared to the two previous samples. While this is a new data set including trend monitoring, this is a good indicator of potential risk for community spread. With this new data, additional support services are offered by the state to the local Health Department, and the state recommends additional precautions including social distancing, wearing masks, handwashing, and avoiding crowds. The November 12 results of the virus fragments in the sewage do indicate a decrease. While this data understanding and information is ongoing, it can serve as an indicator and if anything confirmation data. Right now the technology is there but the time between sampling and data reporting is not able to quite serve as a single community warning prior to outbreak but as data is reported it would be able to encourage additional diligence. As the process improves this could prove to be a warning indicator from the sewage testing.