Governor DeWine provided an update this week on the Ohio Coronavirus Wastewater Monitoring Network which tests wastewater for gene fragments of COVID-19.
Those infected with COVID-19 begin to shed the virus early in their infection, and a significant, sustained increase in gene fragments found in wastewater can be an early warning sign of a pending rise in COVID-19 cases in a specific area. The value of this information is that gives communities an opportunity to act proactively to prevent outbreaks.
Since the launch of the monitoring program, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has notified health authorities in six communities of a sustained increase in gene fragments found in their wastewater: Dayton, Columbus, Akron, Oregon, Sandusky, and Mansfield.
ODH is currently monitoring 36 sites across the state and an additional 25 sites will be added during the coming month. Communities found with a sustained increase in gene fragments are offered testing and contact tracing assistance.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), in partnership with Ohio State University, has also begun monitoring wastewater at Ohio’s prisons to prevent spread among staff and inmates. A sustained increase in COVID-19 gene fragments in a prison’s wastewater will trigger a series of actions within the prison to prevent spread, including the testing of all staff. Staff members working in prisons free of COVID-19 will have access to on-site voluntary testing.
The Mansfield finding was corroborated on Tuesday by information shared by Richland Public Health. According to RPH, “ An upward trend of viral gene copies has been detected in the Mansfield sewershed which serves all Mansfield communities.”
The information continues, “Over the past seven (7) days, levels in the Mansfield community have increased 750%, from 160,000 MGC/day* on September 13 to 1,200,000 MGC/day on September 20. (*MGC/day = N2 [virus gene] Average per sample times Flowrate, divided by million and rounded to first two significant digits.)”