COVID-19 concentration samples show decrease since April 2021
(HACKENSACK, NJ) – Bergen County’s ongoing Wastewater Testing program indicates that concentration levels of COVID-19 have demonstrated a steady decrease since April 2021.
According to a May 25 report from project partner, AECOM, “concentrations in the composite samples have shown a downward trend in SARS-CoV-2.” The report went on the specify that during the most recent collection period (May 15 to May 21), all municipalities serviced by the BCUA were reporting less than 500 copies/ml, with the exception of five outliers that either maintained the same level of magnitude or had a slight uptick.
The wastewater concentration data shows a correlation with several reports indicating a general decrease in positive COVID-19 cases in Bergen County. The month of May saw 1,116 total positive COVID-19 cases in Bergen County, down significantly from the 7,210 recorded in March. As of May 25, the most recent positivity score for New Jersey’s northeast region, which includes Bergen, Essex, and Hudson Counties was 1.99. That is down from 10.81 in late March.
Bergen County has also been a leader in the state for vaccination efforts which likely contributed to the declining data. As of June 2, New Jersey Department of Health data shows that over 451,056 Bergen County residents are fully vaccinated.
“We have come a long way in our fight against COVID-19 and I believe we are finally approaching the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco. “We continue to follow the science to measure the impact of our collective public health efforts and these most recent results show that they are indeed paying off. However, we still have more work to do to get to herd immunity and I strongly urge all Bergen County residents to do their civic and social duty by getting the vaccine.”
“By testing the wastewater entering the Bergen County Utilities Authority’s (BCUA’s) collection system for COVID-19, public health experts and local officials have access to important data for managing resources in response to the pandemic” said Robert Laux, Executive Director of the Bergen County Utilities Authority. “The BCUA remains committed to our partnership with the County of Bergen, AECOM and Columbia University and looks forward to continuing this important public health initiative to help spot new trends in concentration data.”
“We are in a much better place than we were just two months ago and the wastewater results further validate the decrease in numbers that we are seeing across Bergen County,” said Hansel Asmar, Bergen County Department of Health Services Director. “However, it is imperative that aggressive vaccination efforts continue until our region achieves herd immunity.”
“We thank the residents of Bergen County for comprehending the gravity of the situation, and taking steps to reduce the spread of this highly contagious and extremely dangerous virus,” said Steve Tanelli, Chair of the Bergen County Board of Commissioners. “I urge everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. The sooner that happens, the faster we’ll be able to return to life interacting with the people we love and miss.”
The County started the Wastewater Testing Program last year through a partnership with Columbia University and infrastructure consulting firm AECOM to monitor COVID-19 RNA in wastewater at the Bergen County Utilities Authority wastewater system thanks to funding from a National Science Foundation Grant and CARES Act dollars. The BCUA wastewater collection and treatment system serves 47 municipalities in Bergen County with a population of approximately 580,000 residents. The data has proven a useful indicator for spotting upticks in community spread of COVID-19 independent of individuals being tested for COVID.