Expanding COVID-19 Surveillance Through Wastewater Testing

Expanding COVID-19 Surveillance Through Wastewater Testing

Published: May 29, 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica

John Stern

Why test wastewater? Public health threats like the COVID-19 pandemic can come with little to no warning. Sewage surveillance can change that. By testing samples of municipal wastewater, officials can quickly assess the presence and spread of COVID-19 infections in their community. For communities without documented cases, wastewater testing can provide an early warning when the virus enters, and for second-wave infections. In communities already exposed, repeated testing can identify shifts in viral epicenters, whether transmission is rising or waning, and when it’s safe to lift restrictions such as social distancing without endangering public health.

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