BOSTON (CBS) — Wastewater is helping to track the presence of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. “COVID-19 is shed into feces which makes its way into the sewer and eventually the wastewater treatment plants,” said Kyle McElroy, a research scientist at BioBot.
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority is part of a pilot study looking at wastewater. It has a contract with Cambridge-based Biobot to process the samples.READ MORE: Racials Slurs Yelled At Players In Several Massachusetts High School Football Games
Samples are taken at the Deer Island Treatment Plant three times a week. The wastewater tested flows in from 43 communities around Boston.
“It’s a very good measure of how much infection there is in the community,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the Dean at Brown University’s School of Public Health.
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He said the MWRA data showed a huge COVID spike in the spring and it’s showing a spike once again.
According to Jha, wastewater testing picks up the virus from people who have symptoms and from people who don’t.
“In that way at our population-level a much more sensitive measure for how much infection there is than the testing that we’re doing where we know we miss a lot of asymptomatic people,” said Dr. Jha.
Gloucester is also testing its wastewater. The city’s health director Karin Carroll said it helped them monitor a recent uptick in cases. They plan to use the data as they make decisions going forward.MORE NEWS: Elijah Lewis Search: Large Police Presence In Abington Related To Missing 5-Year-Old Boy
“I think as we move into the winter with cares it’s will be helpful in knowing should a community pull back a bit from say Phase 3 Step 2, should we go back to Step 1,” said Gloucester Health Director Karin Carroll.