The City of Greenfield has begun to participate in a testing program to track the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the wastewater system. Daily sampling began Tuesday at the City’s Water Pollution Control Facility. Initial results will be used to establish a baseline to track COVID-19 trends within the community. Data from wastewater can be a leading indicator of an outbreak and show signs of increased virus activity ahead of individual testing and hospitalizations.
“Monitoring our wastewater gives us another data point to track COVID-19 in Greenfield,” said Public Health Director Jennifer Hoffman. “This sampling helps provide a more complete picture of coronavirus activity, because many people are doing at-home tests and the results are never reported. We can also track other communicable diseases, such as norovirus and salmonella.”
People with an active COVID infection excrete the virus in their stool, which ends up at a wastewater treatment facility where it is settled, mixed and concentrated into primary sludge. A sample of this material can be used to estimate virus levels in the population served by the treatment facility.
Samples from Greenfield’s plant will be analyzed by Cambridge-based Biobot Analytics. When results are available, they will be posted online by county at https://biobot.io/data/.