City to test sewage for COVID-causing virus

Nov 2, 2020

TRAVERSE CITY — Testing sewage for the virus that causes COVID-19 could provide an early warning of infection flare-ups in the Traverse City area.

That’s why the city, Grand Traverse County Health Department and the state are partnering through Dec. 30 to look for the virus within a system that serves roughly 45,000 residents across the city and six townships, not to mention commercial users.

Their data will contribute to a statewide effort to track the virus over broad areas by testing in numerous other sewer systems, county health department Environmental Health Director Dan Thorell said.


Determining the presence and prevalence of the disease in certain areas provides another sorely needed data point beyond confirmed cases and positive test rates from individual swabs, Thorell said.

“So over time, I think it’s going to be very useful to kind of get a baseline of what’s going on when you first start the study, and then watching those trends over time to see what’s actually happening out there, so it’s just another tool in the toolbox,” he said.

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