Wastewater indicates COVID really spiking

Email this afternoon from the METROPOLITAN AREA PLANNING COUNCIL (MAPC) – the graph should be all the warning we need – be careful – COVID must be everywhere – “Yesterday’s wastewater analysis from the MWRA indicates a level of infection unseen during the pandemic.”

COVID-19 Update   Amid new wastewater data, MAPC will share resources and expert information to assist municipal officials in pandemic response
Good afternoon Mayors, Managers, and local officials.  

Let me start by wishing you, your families, and staff a happy and healthy New Year. For many of us, 2021 has proven to be a very challenging year, but as we look ahead to 2022, we are in a much stronger position to address COVID-19 than we were a year ago:  

We have vaccines, and high vaccination rates compared to the rest of the country. Vaccines and boosters are tamping down serious illness and death. 

We have committed and science-driven federal partners, who have appropriated vast resources through CARES and ARPA. Just one month ago, the Legislature responded to calls from the Governor and all of you to pass legislation appropriating over $6 billion in ARPA funds for a wide range of critical purposes, from housing to small business support to expanded public health.

We have an ongoing and productive dialogue with our state leaders. Many of our counterparts in other parts of the country can only wish for such a level of collaboration.  

Most importantly, you have each other. In a career that now spans 40 years, I have never seen such an impactful level of collaboration among municipal leaders. That has helped to get us through 2021, and that regional approach will help to get us to a stronger 2022.  

I want to take this opportunity to update you on our current COVID status and offer ways that MAPC can help.  

Yesterday’s wastewater analysis from the MWRA indicates a level of infection unseen during the pandemic. Wastewater data has been a consistent indicator of the volume of COVID-19 cases who are actively shedding virus, whether they are symptomatic or not. The chart below indicates the results of wastewater testing in the northern half of the MWRA district (green) and the southern half (orange), but the results are similar across the district.
Of course, we are worried this data predicts a likely surge in illness and hospitalizations over the next few weeks, even if Omicron illness is less severe than Delta.  

As you know, hospitals are already full, elective procedures are postponed, health care staff are stretched and tired, and many are out with COVID themselves. The number of deaths in the Commonwealth has also been creeping up for weeks. Yesterday, the 7-day average published by DPH stood at 26.5, or 795 people per month. We mourn these losses deeply, and must take steps to reduce further devastation in our communities.   We are already in touch with the Baker Administration to discuss additional steps they can take on a statewide basis to address the current surge. If we have any news of additional actions from the Commonwealth, we will share that information with you immediately.    At the same time, city and town leaders remain our frontline defense. Many of you are already taking critical steps to safeguard your residents and have implemented policies related to masking, testing, vaccines, boosters, and more. These critical steps can actively reduce the number of individuals who become infected, which in turn reduces serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Cities and towns can do this on their own, or – better still – they can collaborate with their neighbors.  

Beginning next Monday, January 3, MAPC will being distributing recommendations and sample documents to help you over the next month. 

We will also be organizing additional calls among mayors and managers, both to share best practices and to learn from experts who can provide you with the latest information science can provide.   Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions and concerns. We are here to help. Despite all of these challenges, please remain hopeful! Again, from all of us at MAPC to all of you, may 2022 be a blessed, happy, and healthy year.   With warm regards,   Marc Draisen Executive Director Metropolitan Area Planning Council

2 responses to “Wastewater indicates COVID really spiking

  1. Thank you for keeping us posted on so many important issues. Does the Medfield Water Treatment plant monitor COVID in our wastewater?

    Regards, Amy Cohen Essex Rd



    • Select Board member Osler "Pete" Peterson

      You are welcome, and thank you for saying so. To my knowledge Medfield is not tracking COVID in our wastewater. It would be one more expense for a town where taxes are already too high, and we can actually piggyback on the results in the MWRA statistics, as we are not likely to be any different.