Massachusetts has been dealing with a new surge of COVID-19 for several weeks now, with many concerned residents eager for it to end.
A sign that it's coming may have just appeared in the area's sewer system.
The most recent update from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's COVID-19 wastewater tracker, submitted over the weekend, shows COVID levels declining somewhat.
It's "the big drop we've been waiting for," tweeted Joseph Allen, a professor at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health who's been keeping tabs on COVID levels in Boston's wastewater.
The update is a "good sign that we are turning the corner on BA.2.12.1," he continued, referring to the variant that's suspected to be behind the latest surge.
The data shows about two days of falling COVID levels after a long and mostly steady rise since early March. It's not yet clear what would have caused COVID levels to fall, or if they will continue to do so.
The COVID data is pulled from water collected at Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's Deer Island wastewater treatment plant and analyzed by Cambridge-based Biobot Analytics three to seven times a week. The plant treats water from 43 eastern Massachusetts communities, including Boston, Cambridge, Framingham and Quincy. The data cannot be linked to specific cities, towns or neighborhoods.
It's among the metrics that policymakers use to judge the severity of the COVID outbreak in the Boston area and Massachusetts on the whole.
Earlier this month, Massachusetts General Hospital infectious disease specialist Jacob Lemieux said in an interview with Harvard Medical School, "Our excellent wastewater surveillance program in Massachusetts also indicates that cases are starting to rise again, suggesting that we're going to see this continued increase in cases for at least another week or two, and probably longer."