Rising coronavirus in wastewater prompts Burlington to ramp up testing

Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 5:53 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2020 at 4:42 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Over the last 14 days, state health leaders tell us Chittenden County has had the most positive cases in the state with 148 and there could be a lot more.

And rising levels of coronavirus found in the wastewater of Burlington’s New North End led to a pop-up testing site on Thursday to see if the community is on the verge of an outbreak. Our Ike Bendavid reports.

“Just precaution,” said Susan Greenfield of Burlington.

That was the theme Thursday as people lined up at the Miller Center in Burlington’s New North End to get a coronavirus test.

Some, like Greenfield, said they have no symptoms but have been with people outside of their inner circle.

“I attended a funeral recently, so I want to be smart. There were also people outside of my circle there even though we were all masked up,” Greenfield said.

Others feeling healthy just want the confirmation.

“You know we are not ill but out of precaution let’s just do it and find out,” said Anna Niemiec of Burlington.

“Just better safe than sorry, so that if for some reason I am asymptomatic I’ll quarantine at home, keeping everyone safe in the community,” said Jolie Lavigne of Burlington.

The pop-up testing site was put up when the city noticed elevated readings of coronavirus in the wastewater.

“Which makes us believe there is a higher prevalence out here in the New North End,” said Brian Lowe, Burlington’s chief innovation officer.

The city has been monitoring the wastewater since August before college students arrived. The wastewater results can be a leading indicator of case growth.

“It doesn’t translate into a specific number of new cases but we checked with VDH, it doesn’t match the known cases that are in this area and it means for us we should move new resources out here and try to find where it’s beginning,” Lowe explained.

The city hopes to test 300 people over Thursday and Friday, and they are working on getting more pop-up test locations set up next week.

To get tested you had to register. The tests are free, but appointments are required.

Click here for appointments at the airport site.

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