GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – Wisconsin health officials today shared new information about their efforts to monitor wastewater for COVID-19. It’s an initiative we’ve been following for you on Action 2 News.
The theory behind COVID-19 wastewater testing is that higher levels of the virus in the water are parallel to potentially rising levels in our society. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) said Green Bay is experiencing a steady increase in the amount of COVID found in wastewater samples. DHS said today that wastewater results are an early look at what we may see next time in terms of COVID-19 cases. If wastewater samples have more COVID in them, it may precede an imminent increase in coronavirus cases.
The national program in collaboration with the CDC is new and still expanding, but Wisconsin wanted to be a part of this data collection early on. It could be even more useful as fewer people are being tested for the virus.
“I think it will be potentially very helpful, especially as we get further into the year and into the early fall to get a different way of looking at disease transmission in the community,” Dr. Jonathan Meiman, DHS Chief Medical Officer.
Many laboratories across the country are also trying to detect different variant levels through wastewater.
“There is some excellent work being done at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene using sequencing specifically for wastewater,” Dr. Meiman. “It’s challenging to say to do it from a sample taken from a person after testing for COVID-19.”
In addition to being a predictive tool, DHS hopes to increase testing across all of its wastewater treatment plants to twice a week to try to get a more accurate picture of community transfer.
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