Lincoln marks one year of testing sewage for COVID-19

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, so do the ways of testing for the virus in human populations.

In Lincoln, the health department has been working with the city wastewater treatment facility to monitor COVID-19 in sewage since June 2021.

The wastewater treatment team sends samples every week to Biobot, a private lab in Massachusetts.

They send the samples out on Tuesday, and by Thursday or Friday, they have the results back.

It costs $350 to send the samples to Biobot each week, and that money is coming from COVID-19 funds the wastewater facility has.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department said there is a correlation between the case numbers and the amount of virus found in wastewater.

“The wastewater testing has been helping us because it’s preceding our case counts in the human side and giving us an indication where things might be going in the coming week,” said Scott Holmes, the department’s manager for environmental health.

The past week, Holmes said, there was a decrease in both the case numbers and the amount of virus detected in the wastewater.

He also said this type of testing may have more applications in the future to monitor for outbreaks of other diseases.

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