Increase of coronavirus genetic material found in sewage treatment plants in Columbus, Dayton

Dayton, Ohio – A steady increase in coronavirus RNA at wastewater treatment plants in Dayton and Columbus prompted a notification to local health departments, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.

The wastewater RNA could be an early warning of a coming hotspot, which is why scientists are testing in more than 30 Ohio cities. Thursday’s announcement mentioning specific cities was the first since the wastewater testing program launched earlier this month.

State and university scientists are randomly sampling the wastewater, and hope to expand their efforts to over 50 cities.

“These findings are information that we very quickly pass on to the local health department,” DeWine said. “Many times, the health department is directly involved in the gathering of this data. But the point is to get it to the people who could use it right on the ground.”

Coronavirus RNA in sewer systems can show the disease is present days before infections lead to case count increases. Dutch scientists found the virus in a local wastewater system days before the city had confirmed its first case.

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