“When cases go up, we turn on the tap a little bit, shutting down people’s ability to interact so much,” New Haven Mayor Justin Eliker said after a leading figure showed a new leap in COVID-19 cases.
COVID-19 testing shows an average of eight cases per day per 100,000 people in New Haven. Recent monitoring of wastewater, which can predict an outbreak of the virus up to five days in advance by looking at the genetic material we discard, shows that the number is actually closer to 20 per 100,000 people per day.
“The sludge report is a very useful tool that allows us to make predictions because not everyone is tested,” explained New Haven Health Director Maritsa Bond.
Bond said the city of elms was at a critical juncture.
“This is definitely a problem,”
Being in the red would mean going back to the first phase, when only major businesses were able to operate, according to Bond.
Elicker said he spoke with Gov. Ned Lamont on Wednesday about imposing some of those spring restrictions on the ground.
“People can predict that the city will work very aggressively to ensure that we reduce the number of opportunities for people to interact in order to keep people safe,” Eliker said on Wednesday.
Sewer monitoring provides a wider network than traditional nasal swab testing and results are faster.
“The increase in RNA concentration tends to show a very strong increase in the number of people diagnosed in the coming days. That’s a pretty good indicator of what’s going on, “said Dr. Doug Brackney of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
Brakni makes a diagnosis for the state’s wastewater monitoring program. Science is considered a leading indicator, as it goes beyond the traditional testing of the COVID-19 nasal swab, capturing everyone in the public sewer system.
“We are definitely going in the wrong direction. It definitely applies for sure, “he said.
Scientists have been able to extract the genetic material of the virus from anyone who flushes a toilet in Elm City and surrounding communities in East Haven, Woodbridge, Hamden and parts of North Branford. It shows that the concentration of COVID-19 RNA in the precipitate has increased by more than 20,000 milliliters in the last two weeks.
“This is what the hearth looks like,” said Dr. Jordan Pecha, a professor of environmental engineering at Yale University.
Pecha leads the team that collects and analyzes this data from the New Haven Wastewater Treatment Plant, along with several others in Connecticut. He said the increase is happening across the country.
“Now is a really critical time to try to fight this as much as we can to make sure it doesn’t shoot straight up, that it will level up,” Pecha said.
Schools in New Haven are due to move from virtual to hybrid training on November 9th. This increase makes these plans unknown.
“Given the increase in cases, this gives us some concern and we are talking about whether to change that or not,” Eliker said.
Bond said contact tracking shows that social gatherings are causing an increase in COVID-19 cases, but she also believes there are other factors contributing to this.
“There are a lot of people who still don’t stick to the mask or don’t make it inconsistently, don’t wear it properly,” Bond added. “I even saw someone wearing a mask recently. So it is really extremely important to practice proper social distancing, “she said.
Leaders beg people not to become complacent.
“Wear your mask, your social distance, and that doesn’t just mean with people you don’t know, but with people you know who aren’t outside of your very basic family bubble,” Eliker said.