Context: The COVID-19 pandemic sparked efforts across the globe to implement wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2. Program: New York State (NYS) established the NYSWastewater Surveillance Network to estimate the levels of COVID-19 community risk and to provide an early indication of SARS-CoV-2 transmission trends. The network is designed to provide a better understanding of public health burdens and to assist health departments to respond effectively to public health threats. Implementation: Wastewater surveillance across NYS increased from sporadic and geographically spare in 2020 to routine and widespread in 2022, reaching all 62 counties in the state and covering 74%of New Yorkers. The network team focused on engaging local health departments and wastewater treatment plants to provide wastewater samples, which are then analyzed through a network-affiliated laboratory. Both participating local health departments and wastewater treatment plants receive weekly memos on current SARS-CoV-2 trends and levels. The data are also made publicly available at the state dashboard. Evaluation: Using standard indicators to evaluate infectious disease surveillance systems, the NYS Wastewater Surveillance Network was assessed for accuracy, timeliness, and completeness during the first year of operations. We observed 96.5% sensitivity of wastewater to identify substantial/high COVID-19 transmission and 99% specificity to identify low COVID-19 transmission. In total, 80% of results were reported within 1 day of sample collection and were published on the public dashboard within 2 days of sample collection. Among participating wastewater treatment plants, 32.5% provided weekly samples with zero missing data, 31% missed 1 or 2 weeks, and 36.5% missed 3 or more weeks. Discussion: The NYS Wastewater Surveillance Network continues to be a key component of the state and local health departments’ pandemic response. The network fosters prompt public health actions through real-time data, enhancing the preparedness capability for both existing and emerging public health threats.
- health security
- infectious disease surveillance
- pandemic preparedness
- wastewater surveillance
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health