Macomb County gets jump start testing sewage for coronavirus

Officials seek to identify potential hotspots of coronavirus in community

A staffer from contractor HESCO collects a sewage sample in Clinton Township. The sample and others will be tested for the presence of coronavirus. (WDIV)

MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced it will begin working with state and local governments to conduct testing of sewage for the coronavirus.

In Michigan, the Macomb County Public Works Office already has been on the leading edge of gathering samples from sewers to be sent for laboratory testing.

MORE: Coronavirus in Michigan: Here’s what to know Aug. 21, 2020

Using federal CARES Act funding received by Macomb County, in May the office launched a pilot project for sewage samples to be pulled from seven locations in Clinton Township. Samples have been collected and sent to a lab for testing.

The goal is to provide that information to the Macomb County Health Department to identify potential hotspots of coronavirus in the community and to make contact tracing and other efforts more efficient and effective to reduce the spread of the virus.

Officials expect to receive the results of lab tests in the near future and will contact the CDC with that information.

“Our department is an enthusiastic partner with the Macomb County Health Department and hospitals. This is another tool to assist them in getting ahead of where the spread of the coronavirus is at,” said Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller.

Studies have shown that testing of sewage samples could detect the presence of the virus in communities two weeks before some infected residents may or may not develop symptoms, or while they await the results of their own test to determine whether they have COVID-19.