Researchers at UArizona using wastewater to track COVID-19

As the spread of the coronavirus continues, researchers are looking for new ways to track it.

At the University of Arizona Water and Energy Sustainable Technology Center, researchers are using sewage to keep an eye on the current status of the virus.

"By monitoring that sewage over several weeks, you can see if the pandemic is increasing or decreasing," said Dr. Ian Pepper, Director of West Center at UArizona.

The municipal wastewater can be used to determine what communities the virus is in, even if residents are asymptomatic or there are no reported cases.

Waster water utilities from Los Angeles to New York are sending them samples, which is then tested in a lab. Researchers say through one test, an entire community of hundreds of thousands of people can be monitored, and recent data indicate good news.

"Now, we are seeing decreases in concentrations of the virus, and that is a leading indicator of where the pandemic is at," said Dr. Pepper.

There have been many predictions of a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall, and researcher say this work will be crucial in detecting the virus in the future.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - How it spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, FAQ (In Spanish/En Español)

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In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

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