Sewage samples show increase in COVID virus at 2 Northeast Ohio treatment plants

Dec 9, 2020

CLEVELAND, OH — If sampling from two Northeast Ohio wastewater treatment plants serves as a predictor, the region may be on the cusp of another surge in COVID-19 cases.

Since July, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has been sending samples of its wastewater to the state as part of a program monitoring for fragments of the virus in sewage.

Researchers believe the virus fragments may be an early indicator of coronavirus infection rates in the community.

"People start shedding the RNA [from the virus] anywhere from three to 10 days before they may get ill," said Scott Broski, superintendent of Environmental Services for NEORSD. "And in some cases, they may never become ill, they could be asymptomatic."

This week, the state reported finding record-high levels of the virus at both the district's easterly and westerly treatment plants.

In both cases, Broski said the state found a ten-fold increase in samples since Thanksgiving.

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