Twice a week at Dallas’ central wastewater treatment plant in East Oak Cliff, workers use an empty milk jug tied to a string to pull a 250-milliliter sample out of a pool of thick gray water. Two-thirds of Dallas’ waste passes through the facility, so the samples give a small look in everyone, yes, deterrence.
The sample is then sent by FedEx to a laboratory in Mississippi, where it is tested for levels of COVID-19 at the level of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC has been testing wastewater for the virus since the early days of the pandemic, but Dallas only began participating in the national effort this month. Researchers at the CDC say testing the waste can help provide an early indicator of rising cases and potential new varieties, and they are trying to expand their monitoring program nationally.