Pendleton cautious about interpreting sewer COVID-19 data

Jun 29, 2020

PENDLETON — There may be COVID-19 in the city of Pendleton’s wastewater system, but city officials aren’t trying to take the results literally.

According to an internal spreadsheet provided by the city, Pendleton has been testing for the presence of coronavirus at its sewage plant since late March.

The system didn’t show any results until April 5, when a lab determined that COVID-19 was prevalent in 0.84% of its sample, a percentage it estimated came from a community of 150 infected people. The lab didn’t detect anything within the next six weekly samples until June 7, when Pendleton’s sample suddenly ballooned to a 4.2% prevalence rate, which led officials to estimate 730 cases in the community.

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