Powell to begin testing wastewater for COVID

Will be compensated by Department of Health

Posted 9/10/20

The City of Powell will begin testing its wastewater for the presence of COVID-19, thanks to a program by the Wyoming Department of Health.

Powell will begin taking samples as soon as the …

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Powell to begin testing wastewater for COVID

Will be compensated by Department of Health

Posted

The City of Powell will begin testing its wastewater for the presence of COVID-19, thanks to a program by the Wyoming Department of Health.

Powell will begin taking samples as soon as the department sends the necessary equipment, said City Administrator Zack Thorington, and he expects testing will begin before the end of the month.

Testing the city’s sewage for the presence of the novel coronavirus could also boost the city’s budget.

Through a contract with the Wyoming Department of Health — which the Powell City Council approved on Tuesday — the

department will pay the city up to $24,000 to collect and submit wastewater samples.

Under the contract, the department provides the testing equipment to the City of Powell for free. The department also pays the city $300 per sample, up to $14,000. Thorington said the city would like to take two or three samples a week through the end of December.

If the city submits an average of one test per week until the middle of December, the Department of Health will provide the city with a one-time payment of $10,000.

People infected with the novel coronavirus shed the disease through their feces. By testing Powell’s wastewater for the presence of the virus, the Department of Health can approximate how many people using a sewage system are infected. The results can provide an early warning system that more people in a community are contracting the disease.

Cody has been testing its wastewater since May. Initial tests at that time showed no presence of the virus in that community, but the samples were analyzed by a private laboratory running tests with a relatively large margin of error. In early August, Cody switched to sending samplesto the Department of Health laboratory twice a week. The results have shown low levels of SARS-CoV-2.

Park County Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin said Tuesday that recent samples from the City of Cody’s wastewater indicate that 0.2% of the people using the system were shedding the virus. That was a 50% decrease from the prior week, Billin said. He roughly estimated that the data indicates around 50 people were infected with the virus in Cody.

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