WESTCHESTER, NY -Trends from a study at all seven Westchester County wastewater treatment plants collectively show significant decreases in detection levels of markers for COVID-19 and that's a good sign.
As of January 2022, trends from a nearly one-and-a-half-year COVID-19 study at all seven Westchester County Wastewater Treatment Plants continue to show decreasing levels, Westchester County officials announced on Wednesday. These findings closely follow the published trends of active cases in the county as the spread of the omicron variant begins to wane.
Elected officials took the news as a hopeful sign.
"As we move past the Omicron variant spike of active COVID-19 cases, these trends are a welcome sign. Data and information are the tools that help guide the decisions of my administration and I commend the work of the Department of Environmental Facilities on their partnership and efforts on this study," County Executive George Latimer said in a statement announcing the encouraging findings.
SARS-CoV-2 RNA laboratory results from the 24-hour composites were collected on January 16. While the samples still showed the presence of COVID-19 markers in each of the seven sewer sheds, the results indicate that those levels decreased significantly. The seven sewer plants studied are located in New Rochelle, Mamaroneck, Ossining, Peekskill, Blind Brook, Port Chester and Yonkers.
"The decreased levels of copies per capita in all of the sewer sheds is indicating a continued leveling off and a definitive downturn from the previous spike," the study concluded.
Early in the pandemic, the Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities (DEF) partnered with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) to study the wastewater at Westchester treatment plants to help better understand the impact of COVID-19 on large urban areas.
"Our Department has had a great working relationship with NYCDEP on this study to help find answers to the pandemic and allowing us to better serve the public," DEF Commissioner Vincent Kopicki explained. "The relationship between Westchester County and NYCDEP is a true partnership where both organizations benefit."
The Westchester County Information Technology department developed the software dashboard to organize and display the results of the sampling, while the Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities takes the weekly samples from the wastewater treatment facilities. NYCDEP performs the lab analysis for all samples.
This article originally appeared on the New Rochelle Patch