HONOLULU (AP) – Federal authorities have begun monitoring Hawaii’s wastewater for COVID-19, while the state expects their own monitoring program to be fully operational this summer, officials said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested the islands as part of their national wastewater monitoring system, It reported Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
The agency posts wastewater data on its COVID Data Tracker website, indicated by dots on a US map. Data from Hawaii is not yet included due to “a technical error resolved with how the points appear on the map,” said CDC spokesman Nick Spinelli.
The agency said it would also display data from the Hawaii Department of Health when the state is able to submit its own numbers.
More than 30 states have been funded to participate in the CDC program, but some are still getting their fundraising efforts up and running.
Several problems delayed Hawaii’s early plans to set up its own nationwide surveillance program.
The state faced a six-month wait for shipment of sample collection machines, which were backordered due to high demand.
Federal funds paid for the surveillance equipment at a cost of about $ 100,000. The equipment is now in place, as are protocols.
It also took months to approve a new staff position for a wastewater microbiologist, said Edward Desmond, administrator of the Department of Health’s State Laboratories Division.
The CDC says that many people infected with COVID-19 excrete viral ribonucleic acid or RNA in their feces, even though they are asymptomatic. This means that wastewater provides an overall snapshot of what is going on in a community, whether people have developed symptoms or have been tested.
An increase in the level of coronavirus in wastewater gives about a week’s notice of where the case counts are going, according to Natalie Exum, assistant scientist in environmental health and engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.