RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today announced it has expanded its COVID-19 wastewater surveillance program from 10 to 19 sites to better identify areas where the virus is spreading.
Since January 2021, NCDHHS has been testing wastewater samples to look for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as part of a new surveillance program — the North Carolina Wastewater Monitoring Network. People who are infected with COVID-19 shed viral particles in their feces. These viral particles are no longer infectious in wastewater but can be measured if enough people are infected.
“As the Delta variant emerges in North Carolina, it’s more important than ever for us to use all available tools to track the spread of COVID-19 so health officials and members of the public can take action if trends are increasing,” said State Epidemiologist Zack Moore, M.D. MPH. “The recent increases we’ve seen are an important reminder that COVID-19 is still here and still a risk for people who are not fully vaccinated. If you haven’t gotten your shot, don’t wait to vaccinate.”
Since May, data from 10 wastewater treatment facilities in North Carolina have been updated weekly on the wastewater monitoring dashboard. The additional sites were selected to include wastewater monitoring sites in all parts of the state.
Measuring the virus that causes COVID-19 in wastewater allows NCDHHS to track COVID-19 trends in an entire community served by the same sewer system with one sample. Wastewater monitoring detects viruses shed by people who are symptomatic as well as people who are asymptomatic and can serve as an early warning sign about increasing trends.
North Carolinians can go to MySpot.nc.gov to find a vaccine location near them.