One of the best tools for predicting COVID-19 outbreaks? Sewage.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than two years ago, testing of untreated wastewater has been used to detect and track pandemic outbreaks. Medical providers and health agencies have been relying on the testing to guide decisions to ramp up detection efforts, vaccination programs and other efforts to respond to the public health threat. Pioneers of the advanced wastewater monitoring include Fulton Schools Professor Rolf Halden (pictured) and his research team at ASU’s Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering. Before the pandemic, Halden and the team used the testing to tract opioid use in the community and later identified a COVID-19 hotspot in the area to help guide a response from community health care workers.