Oakland County’s refined wastewater COVID-19 test prevents eruption – The Oakland Press
Oakland County’s refined wastewater COVID-19 test prevents eruption – The Oakland Press

Oakland County’s refined wastewater COVID-19 test prevents eruption – The Oakland Press

It may be a dirty job, but through the pandemic, wastewater testing has become an indicator of possible COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Oakland County Health Division started testing at three wastewater treatment plants.

“Now I do not test on treatment plants, we did a year ago. I wanted to test on a plant where I could go in and make a difference, ” said Dr. Russell Faust, Medical Director of the Health Division. “If I get an increase in viruses at a treatment plant, there’s not much I can do. I can not test 100,000 people. I wanted to be able to make smaller facilities to prevent outbreaks. It works great.”

So the process was refined with the goal of preventing outbreaks on town halls like dorm rooms, nursing homes and also colleges.

“In a nursing home, they live in an assembly situation, so if one or two of them get COVID, they all have COVID,” Faust said.

So if they find a positive result in the wastewater, they go into the building and test everyone.

“We are isolating the positive, we are preventing an outbreak. We have done this several times in the last year, it is an amazing model. That is what the federal authorities are doing nationally, a national network of these laboratories and collaborative teams,” he said. Faust.

They currently do 17 tests twice a week. The good news is that no positive tests have been found for several weeks at any of the locations.

A year ago, they made a list of places where they thought they could make a difference to prevent outbreaks.

‘Then we pretty much started knocking. I made a lot of phone calls and asked the President or CEO if they would consider letting us take the test. Some places said, ‘No thank you, not interested.’ We had a few places where the president was very excited, but when it came down to it, the maintenance person did not want us nearby and they ended up preventing the project from moving forward, ” Faust said.

Havenwyck, a mental health hospital in Auburn Hills, is one of the sites that agreed to be tested.

“It works really, really well for them. They really would have had a series of outbreaks if we had not been able to go in and test everyone on every virus rise,” Faust said.

He said it also succeeded when a local college football team had a few positive players.

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