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State's testing of city wastewater could help Janesville track virus

Dec 16, 2020

JANESVILLE

COVID-19 cases could continue their upswing in coming weeks, according to a coronavirus forecasting model that relies on tests of local sewer water to predict infection trends.

Since September, Janesville’s wastewater treatment plant has sent wastewater samples to the State Hygiene Lab and UW-Madison twice a week. It’s part of a testing program that could give local officials an early warning about new outbreaks, the state Department of Health Services says.

 

Joe Zakovec, the head of Janesville’s wastewater treatment utility, said it’s the first time he knows of that his facility has collected samples of wastewater for state virus testing. The state is conducting the tests during a yearlong analysis aimed at tracking the pandemic locally and in real time.

In Janesville, test readings show recent spikes in the concentration of DNA shed by the virus in new sewage and wastewater coming into the plant.

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