Janesville sees rising COVID-19 in its wastewater, according to new DHS tracker

Oshkosh is also seeing higher numbers
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 3:27 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - What a community is flushing down the toilet may be giving Wisconsin health officials as much as a week’s head start in detecting new COVID-19 outbreaks across the state.

In its latest daily update, the Dept. of Health Services added to its coronavirus dashboard its wastewater monitoring network. The agency explains COVID-19 can start appearing in people’s feces soon after they are infected, detecting spread before symptoms start showing – if they even show up at all.

“Surveillance of wastewater is part of our broader statewide efforts to better understand and monitor this virus,” said Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm. “This publicly available dashboard will also empower both Wisconsinites and leaders to make more informed decisions about COVID-19 in their communities.”

The dashboard tracks sewershed locations and boundaries and the changes in the amount of the virus in the water. By tracking the changes in the virus, health officials can detect potential spread up to a week before changes in clinical testing start rising or falling.

“This wastewater surveillance data can provide a larger window for public health officials to execute targeted public health interventions,” Dr. Jonathan Meiman, Chief Medical Officer for the DHS Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health said.

Approximately 70 sewersheds are currently enrolled in the program. Of those, only two saw increases in coronavirus concentration over the previous two weeks: Janesville and Oshkosh. De Pere and River Falls saw declines over that period, while the rest of the watersheds held steady.


Health officials reported 81 more people have died from COVID-19 symptoms over the past day, the latest update to the Dept. of Health Services tracker showed. While that is an increase over Tuesday’s report, it is little changed over last Tuesday.

That left the seven-day rolling average for deaths linked to the virus flat, with an average of 55 people per day dying over the past week. In December alone, DHS has recorded 574 deaths, sending the all-time total to 3,887 deaths from complications related to the virus.

Health officials tallied 3,619 new cases Wednesday, approximately 30 percent of the 11,726 total tests added. With the latest cases, DHS figures show 422,065 people have tested positive since the pandemic began – and with fewer than 55,000 of them still active the percentage of cases that are active has fallen below 13 percent.

DHS also shows 215 more people were admitted into Wisconsin hospitals over the past day. Currently, there are 1,556 COVID-19 patients at Wisconsin hospitals with 325 of them in intensive care units.

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