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Oxford wastewater samples indicate high level of COVID-19 spread

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Posted at 4:48 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 16:48:52-05

OXFORD, Ohio — Samples taken across multiple days from the Oxford Wastewater Treatment Plant indicate an increased spread of COVID-19 in the community.

The Ohio Department of Health has continued to monitor wastewater within communities across the state, looking for gene copies or fragments of the virus.

“Wastewater data can be one of the first indicators that notify a community that the risk of getting the disease is high,” Butler County General Health District environmental health director Carrie Yeager said Tuesday in a news release.

Traces of COVID-19 can be found in the feces of symptomatic and asymptomatic people, and its presence in wastewater is an early indicator of the spread of the virus.

“The increase of COVID-19 fragments in the wastewater tells us that spread of the virus is higher than we have previously seen,” Butler County General Health District health commissioner Jennifer Bailer said. “When notified of such an increase, the public should consistently (be) following public health advice on facial coverings, physical distance and hand washing. During this Holiday season when many have plans to gather and spread of the virus is high, our community should be especially vigilant,” Bailer said.

She said December has been a difficult month for Butler County and new cases of COVID-19. The county has seen several instances of new case counts rise on several occasions.

Area hospitals have pleaded with residents to stay home amid staffing shortages and an increased number of ICU occupancies.