In hundreds of cities across the USA, scientists hope monitoring systems will provide an early warning if coronavirus infections reemerge as communities in some states cautiously reopen.
These monitors don’t rely on testing patients or tracing contacts.
All that’s required? Human waste.
Over the past few months, private companies and university researchers have partnered with communities to collect sewage at treatment plants and test it for the presence of the novel coronavirus. The results are reported to municipal governments and state health officials to help them monitor the situation.
Testing wastewater can reveal evidence of the coronavirus and show whether it’s increasing or decreasing in a community, said Ian Pepper, a professor and co-director of the University of Arizona’s Water and Energy Sustainable Technology Center, one of the groups tracking the virus through different municipal sewage systems.