November 29, 2020: The source data cited here has changed since this post was written due to revised measurement techniques. Please see my newer post for details.

Here in Boston, the agency in charge of sewage treatment has contracted with a fellow Greentown Labs startup (Biobot) to monitor COVID-19 viral RNA levels in sewage. This is a brilliant new technique that provides an excellent early warning sign for public health events.

I combined their dataset with hospitalization data from the state. The state data includes many hospital beds that are not part of the MWRA sewage system, but you get the idea:

Graph of MWRA viral RNA levels vs COVID hospital beds

Basically, we’re in big trouble.