Wastewater Monitoring for COVID-19 Expanding in Davis
Healthy Davis Together wastewater monitoring operations, led by UC Davis researchers with support from the city’s Department of Public Works, has deployed newly arrived wastewater sampling equipment to 15 additional sample collection locations (nodes), expanding monitoring to more neighborhoods served by the city wastewater collection system. The virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) can be shed in the stool of infected individuals, including individuals who do not yet have symptoms or who never have symptoms. Regular testing of wastewater can detect spikes and be used as an early warning detection system so that action can be directed to individual testing efforts that help prevent spread.
“Davis is one of few cities to have a full-scale environmental monitoring program in place,” said Heather Bischel, project lead for wastewater monitoring for Healthy Davis Together and assistant professor in UC Davis’ Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Recent low levels in wastewater confirm what we see with our low positivity rate. An elevated reading could mean there are asymptomatic infections that haven’t been identified yet, or that virus is being shed by individuals already properly in quarantine and receiving care. Either way, it’s important for residents to be kept informed so they can take appropriate action to stay well.”