Tempe leans into wastewater analysis as fewer people seek COVID-19 tests

Jun 23, 2021

As COVID-19 vaccines roll out and testing becomes less frequent, the city of Tempe is leaning heavily on its wastewater testing program, a collaboration between ASU and the city that detects how COVID-19 is spreading through testing water from toilets, to measure where the virus is still prevalent.

According to John Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center data from March 2021, testing for COVID-19 in the U.S. has fallen by 32% since January, and if trends follow, it will only continue in that direction. 

“People are not testing for COVID, so that can’t be a strong indicator, but it’s still a data point,” Tempe deputy city manager Rosa Inchausti said.

The wastewater testing results are used by the city of Tempe as the lead indicator, along with three others, to understand the public health of the community regarding COVID-19. Residents and community members can also view the full dashboard, which is updated weekly.

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