Coronavirus – MDHHS releases COVID-19 wastewater monitoring dashboard

MDHHS releases COVID-19 wastewater monitoring dashboard

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 8, 2021

CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has released a new data dashboard on the MDHHS COVID-19 Wastewater website to display COVID-19 wastewater monitoring data from the Sentinel Wastewater Epidemiology Evaluation Project (SWEEP). SWEEP provides a detailed, weekly analysis and interpretation of wastewater data from a subset of existing COVID-19 wastewater monitoring sites in Michigan.

The purpose of COVID-19 wastewater monitoring efforts is to identify and track the SARS-CoV-2 virus in communities – and SWEEP helps to do that in a faster and more targeted way. The results can provide an early detection of the virus before people become sick or get tested and before cases are reported. Local health departments and their partners use this data to track COVID-19 in their communities and inform their public health responses. This monitoring method is noninvasive and privacy-protecting, as it provides information about populations of people and not individuals.

“The SWEEP data provides an in-depth overview of wastewater monitoring efforts at regional and statewide levels,” said Dr. Alexis Travis, MDHHS senior deputy director, public health administration. “Interpretation of the data provided on the dashboard helps to quickly and easily identify patterns in SARS-CoV-2 levels, track trends and monitor distribution of the virus in wastewater across the state. Over time, data from these wastewater treatment plants can be compared to other sampling sites and COVID-19 case data within the same region.”

Starting in June 2021, MDHHS expanded upon a previous pilot project to support wastewater testing for SARS-CoV-2 at over 400 sites throughout Michigan. A subset of these sites was chosen for SWEEP to allow for a more focused and timely data analysis that can be updated weekly.

The SWEEP dashboard displays site-specific wastewater monitoring data and trends from 19 wastewater treatment plants in 17 counties and the City of Detroit. These sites, referred to as sentinels, are distributed across the eight Michigan Economic Recovery Council (MERC) regions. These sites were selected based on a set of criteria that provide timely wastewater data on a large population in each region of the state.

Current data shows that SARS-CoV-2 levels in wastewater are high throughout 7 of the 8 MERC regions of the state. The level of virus has increased at 9 of the 19 SWEEP sites during the second half of November. For 15 of 19 sites, the most recent level of virus recorded was higher than 75% of all previous samples from that same site. These increases coincide with rising COVID-19 cases reported in the state.

Data from the larger Michigan COVID-19 wastewater monitoring project is available on the Michigan COVID-19 Wastewater dashboard. For more information on wastewater monitoring, visit the State of Michigan Wastewater Surveillance for COVID-19 website.

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