Project begins testing sewage for COVID-19 across Michigan

Nov 11, 2020

By Taylor Haelterman
Capital News Service

Michigan is searching the state’s sewers for the virus that causes COVID-19.

The $10 million pilot project could serve as an early alarm of spikes in the disease. And it represents the first time a coordinated statewide network of testing labs will be used to detect the virus in wastewater.

“When people become infected with the virus one of the first things that happens is they excrete the virus in feces in fairly large amounts,” said Shannon Briggs, a toxicologist with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and a coordinator of the program. “This happens before any other symptoms typically are present.”

The results will be shared with local health departments so that they know where to keep an eye out for outbreaks.

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