State partners with universities and wastewater facilities to track COVID-19

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A rendering of coronavirus via the CDC.

DENVER, Colo. — The state will begin a project to test wastewater to help track the overall spread of COVID.

According to CDPHE, the virus can appear in faecal matter before someone shows any symptoms.

Monitoring for the virus in wastewater can possibly inform communities whether there will be an outbreak a couple of days to a week in advance. 

People who don’t show symptoms also can shed the virus. Testing wastewater can give health officials early warnings about increases or decreases in COVID-19 cases within a community.

With this information, health officials can:

  • Increase resource capacity in the community if there is an increase in cases. 
  • Re-evaluate closure and social distancing measures if there is a decrease in cases.
  • Use information to track virus trends across communities.

Researchers from Colorado State University and Metropolitan State University of Denver will aid in the project– as will Colorado wastewater utilities. 

Communities in the U.S. and in Europe have used similar projects to provide an early warning of a COVID outbreak. 

“While we are still learning about how the virus is shed, we believe this innovative project will help us see trends on a community-wide scale. With a virus like this, we need multiple sources of data to help keep it contained,” said Nisha Alden, Respiratory Disease/COVID Surveillance Program Manager, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. 

If all goes as planned, the state will publish results several months from now, making the information available to public health to help inform decision-making.

The project is funded by a $520,000 allocation and is expected to provide additional info for about 60-65% of Colorado’s population served by the participating entities.

Click here for more information.

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