Utah sewage study detects high concentrations of novel coronavirus in large cities, areas with outbreaks

Jun 12, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah scientists say sewage could provide a tool for ongoing monitoring and early detection of the novel coronavirus in communities after they found high concentrations of the the virus in areas with outbreaks.

The information could be useful for state officials as infection numbers keep climbing, with another 325 positive cases confirmed Friday and eight more deaths in the Beehive State. The Utah Department of Health says the state now has 13,577 COVID-19 cases from 258,786 tests conducted

Researchers hoped to discover whether waste that gets flushed down the toilet could help Utah get a more localized picture of infection rates. In March, as part of a pilot study, they began testing samples of untreated wastewater for the presence of COVID-19 gene copies in 10 treatment plants across the Beehive State representing about 40% of Utah’s population.

“The initial results show that we can not only detect the virus in sewage, but we can see trends that are broadly consistent with known infection rates in Utah’s communities,” Erica Gaddis, director of the Utah Division of Water Quality, said in a statement.

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