Spotting the RNA of the novel coronavirus in sewage outflows proved to be a very effective method of predicting COVID-19 outbreaks, according to a preprint (i.e., not peer-reviewed) of a study by a number of researchers at Yale. You can read it here.
SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations were a seven-day leading indicator ahead of compiled COVID-19 testing data and led local hospital admissions data by three days.
If this holds up, this could be a really important tool allowing communities to open up and then shut down geographically as hot spots arise – i.e., Concord could shut for a week if a surge comes in its sewage but Manchester would stay open.
Of course, this wouldn’t help the large majority of New Hampshire communities that don’t have sewage treatment facilities. We’re not going to be measuring the RNA in samples from everybody’s septic in town.