Chicago collecting sewage samples to track surges in COVID-19 cases

Nov 18, 2020

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Testing may not tell the real story on how widespread or limited COVID-19 may be in certain neighborhoods. The truth may come from wastewater.

A growing number of communities in the United States are collecting sewage samples as a way to track surges in coronavirus cases.

Chicago is scrambling to use this type of testing in an effort to give hospitals more time to prepare for outbreaks in some neighborhoods.

Not everyone gets tested and not everybody who gets infected with COVID-19 shows symptoms.

"Even though we think of it as a respiratory infection which it certainly is, the virus remains in stool even after somebody has gotten over their symptoms," said Sam Dorevitch, UIC School of Public Health researcher.

According to Dorevich, there are high levels of COVID-19 in stool. To track the virus, UIC is in the process of studying sewage samples from the city's water treatment plants.
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