CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A city in Brevard County is participating in a program to map COVID-19 — using sewage.
Cape Canaveral is one of the first cities in the country to participate, and Thursday is the first day they collected sewage samples for testing.
Biobot co-founder Newsha Ghaeli in Boston says they're using sewage samples from 40 states to map the virus across the country, with 330 wastewater facilities participating.
“Coronavirus is actually excreted in the stool of infected patients,” Ghaeli said.
Cape Canaveral Wastewater Laboratory manager Jessica Bunnell says once a week for a month she will be sending the city's wastewater samples to Biobot.
“There could be people who had it but didn't know, or had mild symptoms that they didn't go get tested. We want to know those real numbers,” Bunnell said. “We want to see what our true numbers are because we've only had two.”
According Ghaeli, this sampling can help cities and states make better decisions moving forward.
“Is the virus trending down in a community, is it time to open up our businesses, and also once we open up, helping us understand when there is a re-emergence of the outbreak,” Ghaeli explained.
Brevard County residents Gordon and Annie England say early detection is key to keeping him and his wife safe, because they both are considered high risk, not only because of their age but also because of their compromised immune systems.
“That gives them the jump on shutting down and lowering the curve, very good technology,” England said. “If it's low they don't have to shut down the beach, or if there's a big hit, they have justification shutting down the beaches and restaurants.”
Cape Canaveral should be getting their first results back within a week. Biobot is caping the probono program at 400 facilities.
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