Yarmouth Covid Wastewater Testing Results - Jan 11, 2022

Jan 11th, 2022

  • The virus level in the latest wastewater sample (Jan 10–11) declined for the first time in seven weeks, but it is still the fourth highest level we have seen since we began wastewater testing in September 2020.
  • This week’s virus level represents an average of more than 207,000,000 viral copies for each person using the Yarmouth wastewater system over the 24 hour sampling period. This is about half of last week’s value.
  • Whether last week’s value represents the peak of the current surge will depend on lower values in the coming weeks.

Results of weekly Wastewater Testing for SARS-CoV-2 for Yarmouth, Maine from September 22, 2020–June 8, 2021 & August 26, 2021–January 4, 2022

  • In spite of the decline, Yarmouth COVID data point to continuing very high levels of COVID in our community, particularly with the widespread presence of the Omicron variant in Maine.
  • The current COVID meter remains at the Yikes! level, but hopefully, it will be declining in the coming weeks.
  • Get vaccinated and boosted.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public places, and even in crowded outdoor spaces.
  • Avoid crowded indoor spaces.
  • Test with a rapid antigen test when gathering with friends and family who have been out and about. Test to leave isolation.

Detailed Report of Yarmouth’s Wastewater and other COVID Testing

Download the full PDF here

The result of the most recent wastewater test, all previous tests during 2020 and 2021, and the number of reported cases of COVID-19 by week (Monday through Sunday) in the Yarmouth, Maine, zip code (04096) are shown in the figure and tables below:

Discussion of Wastewater Results and Case Reports

The virus level in this week’s wastewater sample (January 10–11) declined for the first time in seven weeks, but it is still the fourth highest level we have seen since we began wastewater testing in September 2020.

The level continues the very high adjusted virus levels for the tenth week in a row. The current stretch of high viral levels has lasted longer and had consistently higher levels than any previous period (including January 2021).

Whether last week’s value represents the peak of the current surge will depend on lower values of virus continuing in the coming weeks.

This week’s virus level represents an average of more than 207,000,000 viral copies for each person using the Yarmouth wastewater system over the 24 hour sampling period. Because not everyone is infected with SARS-CoV-2, this means that those who are infected are shedding up to tens of billions of viral copies each day into the wastewater system. 

The 37 COVID-19 cases reported for Yarmouth by the Maine CDC for the 7-day period from January 3–9, 2022, is the greatest number of cases ever reported.

This number is likely an undercount for this period, based on the level of virus in Yarmouth’s wastewater and other COVID case data available for Yarmouth (see below). The inconsistent availability of reportable rapid tests, the use of home kits, a significant PCR testing backlog in the Maine state laboratory, and a delay in counting cases due to the current surge in cases in Maine are likely contributors to this likely undercount.

Thus, it is likely that the Yarmouth wastewater levels of SARS-CoV-2 virus provide a more accurate picture of the current situation in Yarmouth than do the COVID-19 case reports from Maine CDC.

Yarmouth School and Community Testing Results

Yarmouth is fortunate to have additional information about what is going on with the SARS-CoV-2 community spread through the Yarmouth School Department’s pooled testing program and Yarmouth’s weekly community testing program.


December 27-31, 2021

The Yarmouth Schools were closed during this week, and there was no pooled testing.

The results of the Yarmouth community testing event on Monday, December 27, were

  • 5 positives out of 189 individuals tested
  • 2.6% positivity rate


January 3–7, 2022

The Yarmouth School Department conducted pooled testing for SARS-CoV-2 on January 3, 2022, which yielded 21 positive pools:

  • 2 at Rowe Elementary School
  • 4 at YES
  • 7 at HMS
  • 8 at YHS.

During the school week of January 3–7, 2022

  • Rowe reported 3 positive test results
  • YES reported 4 positives
  • HMS reported 32 positives
  • YHS reported 50 positives

for a total of 89 positive test results.

The Yarmouth community testing event on Monday, January 3, 2022, showed a higher percentage of positive test results than on December 20 or 27, 2021, with:

  • 21 positives out of 170 individuals tested
  • 12.4% positivity rate


January 10–12, 2022

The Yarmouth School Department conducted pooled testing for SARS-CoV-2 on January 10, 2022, which yielded 38 positive pools for SARS-CoV-2:

  • 3 at Rowe Elementary School
  • 7 at YES
  • 11 at HMS
  • 17 at YHS.

During the school days of January 10–12, 2022,

  • Rowe reported 5 positive test results
  • YES reported 15 positives
  • HMS reported 4 positives
  • YHS reported 23 positives

for a total of 47 positive test results.

The Yarmouth community testing event on Monday, January 10, 2022, showed a higher percentage of positive test results than on December 27, 2021, or January 3, 2022, with

  • 30 positives out of 200 individuals tested
  • 15.0% positivity rate

This is the highest percent positive for any Yarmouth community testing event; the previous high of 12.4% positive was last week on January 3.

Recommendations

Prepare for a continued COVID-19 surge with the widespread presence of the Omicron variant in Maine. Vaccination, including boosters, of all eligible individuals and adherence to recommended practices for limiting virus transmission—such as masking, physical distancing, good ventilation, and avoiding crowded indoor spaces—are key to reducing viral infections and ongoing transmission.

Participation of students, teachers, and staff in pooled testing for SARS-CoV-2 at the Yarmouth schools and testing of individuals in non-school settings, as needed, also play an important role in identifying infected individuals so that appropriate isolation and quarantine can limit viral spread. 

Expand rapid antigen testing via home tests and community testing to quickly recognize cases to ensure that persons who test positive can isolate and those that are close contacts can quarantine. 

Test prior to leaving isolation, if possible.

The Town of Yarmouth with the Yarmouth Community Coronavirus Task Force and the State of Maine will make sure that persons needing isolation can get food and support during this trying time. 

If assistance is needed, please call Yarmouth Community Services or the Task Force; or fill out a form for the State of Maine’s Community Care (someone will usually call the same day): https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/covid-19-referral-form.

Thanks to the Yarmouth Community

The Team would like to thank the Town of Yarmouth, the Yarmouth Community Coronavirus Task Force, and individual donations for funding Yarmouth’s wastewater testing program from late-August 2021 through late-February 2022.

Thanks also to Chris Cline and Yarmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility staff for collecting the weekly samples; to Tom Downing, Gro Flatebo, Laura Coroi, Dan Ostrye, and Gib Parrish for transporting wastewater samples from the Treatment Facility to the laboratory at Saint Joseph’s College; and to Yolanda Brooks at Saint Joseph’s College for analyzing the samples for SAR-CoV-2.

Gib Parrish and Sharon McDonnell


HOW DOES WASTEWATER TESTING WORK?

Every week we measure the total number of viral copies of SARS-CoV-2 in the Yarmouth wastewater over a 24 hour sampling period. This gives us an average number of viral copies per person.

Because not everyone is infected with Covid, this means that those who are infected are shedding tens of billions of viral particles each day into the wastewater system.

WHAT DOES THIS TELL US?

We know that the Covid test results we are seeing from the Maine CDC are not telling us the full picture. By looking at a variety of sources of data we can get a clearer picture of how much Covid was circulating in Yarmouth during the prior week.

We take:

  • data from our wastewater testing in Yarmouth
  • data from the CDC on positive case numbers
  • data from the Yarmouth school system – both pooled testing, and positive cases reported
  • data from the Yarmouth Covid Task Force testing that happens every Monday.

This gives us a much fuller picture. Read below for the full report.

Interested to learn more?

Yarmouth Tests Wastewater to Understand Local Covid-19 Trends

Background on Wastewater Testing in Yarmouth