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Scientists, researchers collecting wastewater to test for COVID

September 15, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The Wisconsin State Hygiene Lab is working on a project to help detect where COVID outbreaks are happening. They're using their information to inform public health officials where they need to put more resources to help contain the spread of the virus.

September 15, 2020 4:41 PM

“Science acts in weird ways sometimes,” said senior scientist Martin Shafer.

Shafer is part of a team that is collecting wastewater samples from 67 locations around the state.

“The virus can appear in wastewater before any illness appears in the community,” Shafer said.

My story tonight at 6 focuses on researchers who are collecting wastewater to track COVID and it’s prevalence in the community.

“We can’t really test 300,000 people twice a week, but we can get an overall assessment of the virus levels in the community by testing the wastewater,” Shafer said.

“You’re excreting it or shedding it into your fecal matter and you poop and it gets mixed up with everyone else’s and winds up at the wastewater treatment facility and at that point you have a well mixed sample that represents the whole community,” Shafer said.

“It’s a really interesting project and it serves the public health goals of the state really well,” Shafer said.

Shafer said the team is still working to collect from more sites and is hoping to collect from at least 100 different sites soon.

He said people will be out collecting samples through at least June 2021.

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