Boston has hired the company that has been sampling sewage at Deer Island for the presence of Covid-19 viral particles to perform similar tests at 11 sites across Boston, Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director Bisola Ojikutu told a City Council committee today.
Samples from the local sewer sites will give the city the ability to better target particular areas for intervention should their numbers spike, Ojiktu said, adding that most of the sites are now operational and that she hopes to begin publishing the data publicly.
The samples will be tested by Biobot Analytics, an MIT-spawned company in Cambridge that has been doing similar sampling at the MWRA's Deer Island treatment plant since early in the pandemic. The numbers have proven to be a predictor of Covid-19 cases a week to ten days out, based on the fact that people begin excreting the virus before they even think to get tested themselves for infection, if they do so at all.
The latest numbers from Deer Island show a spike in recent days, as shown in this chart from the MWRA's northern sewer system (roughly north of Rte. 9):
Ojikutu said the spike emphasizes the importance for residents to get Covid-19 booster shots. She said only 11% of Bostonians have yet to get the bivalent shots, which provide stronger protection against the omicron variants.
She said the city currently runs walk-in vaccination and testing clinics and that a sixth will open soon, possibly next week, at City Hall. A number of private groups and pharmacies also provide vaccinations. Complete list.