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Coronavirus levels in Massachusetts wastewater hit new records

COVID-19 tests waited to be processed at Massachusetts General Hospital on Thursday afternoon.
COVID-19 tests waited to be processed at Massachusetts General Hospital on Thursday afternoon.Erin Clark / Globe Staff

Traces of coronavirus in Massachusetts wastewater have reached the highest levels recorded since the pandemic began, far surpassing the spring surge, according to new data released by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

Coronavirus levels broke records for samples taken from both the northern and southern halves of the state’s wastewater system.

The pilot program looks for SARS-CoV-2 RNA copies per milliliter of wastewater at the Deer Island Treatment Plant. Officials are hoping the tests can serve as an early warning system for virus surges.

Like other coronavirus metrics, the charts show two major surges, one in the spring and one happening right now. But the latest data, released on Tuesday, show a dramatic rise in coronavirus levels detected since the beginning of November. The new data reflect samples submitted as recently as Monday.

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Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced a statewide rollback of the Massachusetts reopening plan, to Phase 3, Step 1, plus other new restrictions, in response to rising COVID-19 cases. Baker said cases and hospitalizations were rising at a rate that is “simply not sustainable over time.”

The latest analysis of coronavirus levels in Massachusetts wastewater.
The latest analysis of coronavirus levels in Massachusetts wastewater.MWRA (Custom credit)

Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed.


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.