Wastewater COVID-19 Testing Expands

The University of Kansas School of Engineering and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment have expanded a project to detect COVID-19 virus in the wastewater systems of local communities across the state.

The original project launched this spring looked for evidence of the virus in a dozen Kansas communities.

This summer, that number has expanded to 18 communities.

KU has also partnered with the City of Lawrence to test that city’s wastewater weekly.

The test looks for signs of the virus’ RNA.

The results so far: The wastewater sampling technique appears able to give Kansas researchers a one-week heads up that the coronavirus is surging in a community, before the case numbers and hospitalizations begin to officially rise.

The City of Lawrence plans to use the information to be ready for any increased demand on medical personnel, equipment and other health resources.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, researchers do not know whether COVID-19 can cause disease if a person is exposed to untreated wastewater or sewage systems.

There is no evidence to date that this has occurred.