Based on all the information being collected on COVID-19 by experts across the state, it looks like Connecticut is entering a second wave or the beginning of another outbreak.
“There’s all kinds of difficulties with testing. I think connecticut runs a strong testing program, but especially when you start to have outbreaks like we’re having right now those testing systems can get stretched,” Yale professor Jordan Peccia said.
Peccia is a professor of environmental engineering at Yale who has been testing wastewater samples from New Haven and seven other communities since march. He measures the amount of virus in the sewage and wastewater on a daily basis -- the data is shared publicly at Covidtrackerct.com.
“This is an independent measurement of what’s going on in a community, in addition to testing. It doesn’t matter if people are asymptomatic or not, they’re going to shed virus and we’re going to see it in the wastewater,” Peccia said.
So, what is the data showing us?
“I wouldn’t use the word increase, or spike or uptick. This looks like an outbreak,” Peccia said.
An outbreak is a sudden rise in the number of cases of a disease. Peccia said based on the wastewater data there are still ongoing outbreaks in New London and Norwich that are moving across the state. Peccia said they’re not seeing the same rate of increases in wastewater samples in Stamford, Bridgeport or New Haven that they are seeing in the eastern part of the state.
“It’s up to us, hopefully, to determine how high those cases are going to go,” Peccia says.
Scientists like Pedro Mendes, a computational biologist at UConn, have been working hard since the early days of the pandemic to set up a way to predict how many cases there will be so they can predict how much ppe and how many hospital beds they may need.
“The model also considers those that we know are infected those people who tested verses also those who may be infected but we don’t know about them yet,” Mendes said.
Mendes said he doesn’t use the wastewater data in his covid prediction modeling, but he uses it to see if his model is predicting things correctly.
“It’s very hard for the models to make very good predictions when the increase -- when we enter an exponential phase. So it has been a little unstable in the last few days,” Mendes said.
Mendes believes based on the data we are seeing the beginning of a second wave.
Gov. Ned Lamont said he sees this as a second wave too.
“I was hoping it would be more gradual, today may be a harbinger that it’s steeper than that,” Lamont said.
“It is showing an increase, perhaps not as big as the one we had in April, but it could be as large as the one in April,” Mendes said.
He said based on his model within three weeks they will see an increase in hospitalizations.