ST. LOUIS — The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District and the University of Missouri are testing wastewater to determine how much COVID-19 is in the St. Louis region.
“It's in our wastewater, which tells us it's here now,” Jay Hoskins of MSD said.
Hoskins said 300 million gallons of water are treated daily but only a small fraction of that is tested for COVID-19. Levels aren’t at all-time highs right now. But at the current rate, our area will reach or exceed case records by next week.
"The wastewater sampling can tell us the differences in the kinds of variant viruses that are in the water,” Hoskins said.
Samples are then sent to Mizzou. Results from samples taken on Monday can be provided to the public by Friday.
“It gives us a couple of days to a week of warning,” Hoskins said. “Early detection, if you will, is a leading indicator of what may be happening (in the community). When you see wastewater levels increasing you may also see hospitalizations, you may also see positivity rates increase and what we’ve seen over time is those two correlating very well.”
MSD reports rising COVID levels at all seven wastewater treatment plants across the St. Louis region. This process is an easy way to collect a large sample, giving experts a clearer picture of the best path forward.