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A water district in Maine is collecting sewage samples for testing to determine the prevalence of the coronavirus based on what’s being flushed down the toilet.
The Greater Augusta Utility District began collecting samples of sewage this week at its wastewater treatment plant. Those samples are being sent to a Massachusetts company that’s pioneering efforts to test for traces of the coronavirus in sewage collected from treatment plants.
The data could provide information on how widespread the virus is in the local population, and could aid local officials in their decision making, the Kennebec Journal reports.
Most data on the spread of the coronavirus currently come from individual testing. The water district, using Keep Maine Healthy funding obtained by the city of Augusta, hopes to take advantage of another measure of the virus’ prevalence, or lack thereof, in a community.
The grants are from the federal CARES Act, administered by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Keep Maine Healthy program. The city received about $155,000 from the program.