Tempe leans into wastewater analysis as fewer people seek COVID-19 tests
The city of Tempe has been getting a more accurate picture of the health of residents in its communities through a partnership with ASU’s Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering, directed by Fulton Schools Professor Rolf Halden. The center launched the water analysis program in 2018 to help the city monitor public health by examining the contents of local wastewater, at first testing it for the presence of opioids and other drugs. Operation shifted to testing for signs of COVID-19 in early 2020 with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. That helped the city develop an early warning program about the spread of COVID-19, and take steps to protect public health. Now, the city is wants to continue that work as fewer people are seeking COVID-19 tests, raising the possibility of a resurgence of the infectious disease. Tempe leaders now hope to also expand the program to test for other health-related indicators.