Sewage testing shows rising COVID infections in Macomb County, officials say

Analysis of sewage samples predict infections to rise in coming days

Workers pull samples of sewage in Clinton Township. Photo is cropped version of image provided by the Macomb County Public Works Commission.
Workers pull samples of sewage in Clinton Township. Photo is cropped version of image provided by the Macomb County Public Works Commission. (Macomb County Public Works)

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Analysis of sanitary sewage in Macomb County shows that COVID-19 infections in the area are high and will likely continue to increase, county officials report.

Throughout the pandemic, the Macomb County Public Works Commission has been sampling sewage in parts of the county to test it for COVID-19 in an effort to help trace virus infections and outbreaks. Officials say this method of coronavirus testing more accurately depicts overall community infection because it “includes sampling of waste shed by individuals who are already infected but who haven’t been tested. As some infected individuals await test results -- or don’t get tested at all -- the data from testing of sewage provides a quicker and more thorough snapshot of infection in the population,” a press release reads Tuesday.

Related: Waste-watching: Sewage can help track pandemic virus trends

According to the county, sewage samples recently tested in Clinton Township -- where the program primarily operates -- show that COVID infections are actually higher than what is currently reported, and will likely continue to grow.

“Testing shows the trend line of what’s coming about a week before, it’s a precursor. Unfortunately our testing is showing that COVID cases will continue to climb into next week,” said Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller.

Officials say that the number of positive COVID-19 tests in Macomb County have increased by 125 percent over the last two weeks, and that residents are at a “very high risk level.”

This graphic shows the rising numbers of positive COVID-19 tests in Macomb County will continue for at least another week, based on laboratory analysis of sanitary sewage. The chart depicts reported COVID-19 cases in the county compared to the public service commission's data. (Macomb County Public Works)

Virus cases are on the rise in Metro Detroit and throughout Michigan. COVID-19 cases have been increasing over the last few weeks.

On Monday, Michigan reported 4,801 new virus cases and six deaths over the weekend. The total number confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan has risen to 629,612 as of Monday, including 15,903 deaths.

Michigan’s 7-day moving average for daily COVID cases was 2,719 on Monday -- the highest since early January. The 7-day death average was 16 on Monday and has been flat for several weeks. The state also reports “active cases,” which were listed at 50,900 on Monday. More than 562,000 have recovered in Michigan.

Michigan has reported more than 3.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered, as of Sunday, with 28.5% of residents having received at least one dose.

Michigan COVID-19 vaccinations: How to find appointments, info on phases


Related news: Man’s body found outside medical center in Macomb Township


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