Monitoring of dozens of sewage treatment plants by the Utah Division of Water Quality shows increasing COVID-19 detection rates in a handful of Utah County cities.
In April, the DWQ and Utah Department of Health launched a pilot investigation to “evaluate whether or not the (virus) RNA (gene copies) or SARS-CoV-2 could be reliably quantified from sewage influent samples,” later noting that the results of the investigation “demonstrated that the number of gene copies could be reliably measured in the sewage of communities with known COVID-19 infections.”
“It is currently not possible to reliably and accurately predict the number of infected individuals from sewage sample results, but the study results demonstrated higher RNA concentrations in communities with a higher density of infected patients,” the DWQ wrote in an explanation of the pilot investigation. “More importantly, the pilot study demonstrated that sewage results could be used to track trends in community infection rates, potentially providing an early warning of future outbreak events.”
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