Annapolis, MD (December 21, 2022) — The Anne Arundel County Department of Health is releasing data from the wastewater monitoring program which detected an increase in SARS-CoV-2 levels this past month. People with COVID-19 can shed the virus in their feces. The concentration of COVID-19 in the wastewater measures the presence of the virus, whether a resident has symptoms, or not. This news comes as the county moved into the medium category of the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Level.
The Department of Health, in partnership with the County’s Department of Public Works wastewater monitoring program, tests seven of the county operated wastewater treatment plants. This has proven to be an accurate indicator of rising and falling COVID-19 community transmission levels. This program can pick up data from anyone who is shedding the virus into the sewage system.
Wastewater samples are collected twice a week from treatment plants across the county. Over the past few weeks, there have been sustained increases in COVID-19 activity in four of the locations, Cox Creek, Patuxent, Broadneck and Broadwater. The data also shows higher wastewater detection levels where vaccination rates are lower.
“Wastewater monitoring has become even more important with the rise of at-home tests, which are not required to be reported and therefore many don’t show up in official case counts,” Dr. Tonii Gedin, the Anne Arundel County Deputy Health Officer of Public Health said. “The current rise in COVID-19 is an important reminder, for everyone eligible, to get vaccinated against COVID-19, including the updated booster. Updated boosters are now available for everyone over 6 months old.”
The CDC’s current definition of being up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations is having received the primary series plus the updated (Omicron) booster that protects you from Omicron subvariants. The Department of Health encourages everyone to stay up to date on their flu and COVID-19 vaccines, including the updated (Omicron) booster.
Based on the county’s community level, consider wearing a high-quality, well fitting mask in indoor settings. The Department of Health encourages all eligible residents to stay up to date on their vaccinations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you have questions or wish to get vaccinated, you can contact the Department of Health at 410-222-7256 or visit www.aacounty.org/covidvax.