Back to school in the age of coronavirus 06:23 (CNN)When Rosa Inchausti and her colleagues started testing wastewater in Tempe, Arizona, it was 2018 and they were not looking for coronavirus. They were tracking the opioid epidemic.
But because they were set up to sample the city sector by sector, they were able to switch gears and begin sampling sewage for evidence of coronavirus.
Now the city is regularly sampling sewers to keep an eye on the pandemic. And things are not looking good in parts of Tempe.
And they’re not looking good in Boston, or in Reno, Nevada, or in many other cities across the country. Biobot Analytics has been analyzing sewage, looking for evidence of coronavirus, for dozens of customers, including Boston. As daily coronavirus counts top 70,000 as measured by standard testing, sewage testing suggests things are going to get a whole lot worse.
"It’s a leading indicator," Inchausti said. "The proof is in the poop."
Across the country, cities and universities are testing sewage to monitor the virus. Studies suggest it’s a useful way to augment standard person-by-person coronavirus testing and while a sewage sample cannot point to an infected individual, it can give an indication that infections are circulating in an area, a neighborhood or even in an individual building.
Early on in the pandemic, it became clear that Covid-19 virus makes its way into the digestive system and could be found in human feces. From there, it’s just a quick flush into the sewers. Alabama State University has installed scanning machines to detect Covid-19 symptoms Mariana Matus, co-founder and CEO of Biobot Analytics, which is analyzing sewage for dozens […]