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'Numbers are starting to come down' | Wastewater continues to help track COVID-19 spread in Houston

January 27, 2021

HOUSTON — What you’re flushing down your toilet is helping the Houston Health Department track the spread of COVID-19. Doctors say that at least 40% of people who have the virus have no symptoms but they can find the virus in human waste.

 

"In fact, the virus is secreted in your feces and in your urine. We can test the wastewater to see if it's there," Dr. David Persse said.

That is why every hour for 24 hours they collect samples from 38 wastewater treatment plants throughout the city. Once a week those samples are sent to labs at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University. Each sample is tested six times and doctors said the process helps spot a COVID-19 resurgence early.

"It is a very early indicator of what is about to happen with positivity and hospitalization. It’s not exact but very very helpful," Persse said.

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