Virginia Department of Health adds COVID-19 Wastewater Dashboard

Cheryle Rodriguez, VDH PIO

Virginia Department of Health adds COVID-19 Wastewater Dashboard  

Dashboard shows wastewater surveillance data of SARS-CoV-2 virus 

(RICHMOND, Va.) — Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) added a wastewater surveillance dashboard to the COVID-19 dashboards. The dashboard shows how much SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is in wastewater sewage in participating communities across the state. The amount of virus present is called the viral load. The dashboard provides information about viral trends and a comparison of wastewater surveillance trends with reported patient case counts. The dashboard will be updated weekly, generally on Tuesday.   

In partnership with local utilities, VDH has been conducting wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 since September 2021 and has shared data with public health officials to inform their decisions about local prevention strategies. COVID-19 surveillance has evolved over time and this adds to the visibility in the community. 

“Used with other data, wastewater data can provide an indicator of community transmission that does not depend on COVID-19 lab testing or health care provider reporting.” said State Health Commissioner, Dr. Karen Shelton. “Wastewater surveillance has proven to be a helpful tool in monitoring trends of viruses; we are excited to also explore the potential of utilizing this technology for the fentanyl response, as directed in Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order 26 issued last week.”  The SARS-CoV-2 virus is shed in feces by infected people, whether they have symptoms of COVID-19 or not. The virus can be detected in sewage days before a person begins to feel sick.  

Currently, 36 wastewater treatment plants are participating in the surveillance initiative. The plants, located across the Commonwealth, volunteer to collect samples weekly. The Department of General Services, Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS), conducts the laboratory analyses for COVID-19. The public health initiative is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through an Epidemiology and Lab Capacity Grant (ELC).