Boston officials report elevated coronavirus levels in wastewater

A researcher tries to extract coronavirus RNA from wastewater samples.
A researchers tries to extract coronavirus RNA from wastewater samples.
(Patrick Orsagos / Associated Press)

Boston health officials said they’re concerned about elevated levels of the coronavirus in the city’s wastewater.

The concentration of the virus in local wastewater has increased by 3.1% over the past week and by nearly 100% over the past two weeks, according to data gathered last week by the Boston Public Health Commission.

The commission began noticing elevated coronavirus levels in the wastewater in late September.


New COVID-19 cases in Boston have decreased slightly over the past week, though the data do not include positive results from at-home tests, the commission said. Boston hospitals had 170 new hospital admissions related to COVID-19 last week.

Many public health officials say the success of COVID-19 sewage surveillance should make it a regular tool in tracking infectious diseases.

March 21, 2022

Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, the public health commissioner, said the elevated concentration in the wastewater is “very concerning” because increases in COVID-19 related hospitalizations, combined with flu season, will cause “major strain” on Boston’s healthcare system.

Ojikutu said it’s important to try to get ahead of this and recommended that people get booster shots and flu shots, wear a mask indoors, get tested for COVID-19 and isolate if they test positive to help reduce transmission. Nearly 79% of Boston residents are fully vaccinated.