WWTFs Provide COVID-19 Clues

Wastewater samples can inform researchers about the impact of viruses, like COVID-19, on communities. Photo by Jessica Becker. © Lake Champlain Committee.

Look no further than the vast system of pipes beneath our feet—sewers—for an alternative to monitoring for viruses like COVID-19 person by person. Wastewater could provide localized data about coronavirus levels and create an early warning system for future outbreaks. In Detroit, MI, for example, an outbreak of hepatitis A was detected a week in advance of an increase in confirmed cases, by extracting the genetic material from the wastewater. Wastewater data cannot yet estimate how many people are infected by a virus, but researchers are working hard to refine this monitoring approach, as it has enormous potential to save lives. Click here to read the article in the New York Times.