Company testing Rutland sewage water for COVID-19

Published: Apr. 30, 2020 at 4:23 PM EDT
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Are we flushing the coronavirus down the drain? One Vermont city is finding out.

Lab technicians are taking samples from Rutland's wastewater treatment facility and sending them to Biobot, a company in Massachusetts. From there, the samples are tested for COVID-19.

It's part of a program 100 communities around the country are taking part in.

Samples are taken once every three weeks and cost about $1,000. On sample day, the wastewater is extracted through a tube once every hour, for 24 hours. It's then mixed, put in a vial and sent away. Rutland has already sent two samples.

The city's Department of Public Works sent a request to be part of the program and is excited to participate in the new technology.

"The early indications from their other work that they have done is extremely promising. They're able to show levels of infection way beyond what the sampling or the testing of individuals has been able to show," said Jeffrey Wennberg, the commissioner of Rutland Public Works.

Biobot hopes to see levels of COVID-19 decrease over the three weeks. When they have the data they will share it and give estimations as to when cities and towns may be safe to reopen.

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