Wastewater Being Used to Trace Covid-19 in CNY Wastewater Helping Trace COVID-19

BALLSTON LAKE, NY (NCC NEWS)— A system used to track polio over 25 years ago is now being used to track COVID-19

Dr. David Larsen, a professor at Syracuse University is a part of a team in Central New York tracking the transmission of COVID-19.

So here’s how the test works:

  1. Water flows downhill always, so in a community there is a central point
  2. The water is separated, into a waste pile and recycled pile
  3. The water is contributed by many people in your community
  4. It is then sampled & filtered to see if they’re pieces of the virus. The scientists look for finger prints/traces of virus (not the live virus)

“Instead of testing a bunch of people for the coronavirus you can just test one waste water sample. Get a feel for what transmission is doing in that community,” said Larsen.

They cannot detect how many cases are in a specific place, but by tracking the virus there is a possibility to see a change in transmission before an outbreak.

“We want to have that trend in place to make sure that doesn’t come up, because those waste water levels will go up before we see that same type of increase in the amount of cases, through hospitalizations. So in that way it can act as a warning signal,” said Larsen.

By the end of July Larsen plans to have a full database where people can see the transmission in there community.

“Every person should be able to look and say what does the COVID 19 transmission look like in my community, and then every person should be able to say well maybe I won’t do that or maybe I will do that. Maybe I will not go visit grandma this week but maybe next week I will,” said Larsen.

Larsen hopes that by the fall this testing and database will he statewide. Right now they are working with eight counties throughout Upstate and Central New York.

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