Department of Corrections gets jump on COVID-19 with unique testing strategy
RICHMOND – For the last year, the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) has used an innovative practice as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic: studying wastewater samples at 40 of its facilities.
VADOC facilities offer unique benefits for tracking because they provide small, controlled, relatively unchanging populations that demonstrate trends quickly and clearly.
“Wastewater testing offers an extremely reliable snapshot of the health of a facility in regards to COVID. If someone has COVID-19, wastewater testing tells us right away,” said Meghan Mayfield, VADOC’s Energy and Environmental Administrator.
Under ordinary circumstances, patients may not show COVID-19 symptoms for eight to 10 days after exposure. Regular wastewater testing gives health officials a potential head start in dealing with an outbreak.