CDPHE testing sewage for signs of COVID-19 outbreaks


DENVER (KDVR) – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced it will now be testing waste water in the Denver metro area for COVID-19. 

Public health experts say testing is a key aspect of fighting the pandemic.

“The reason we are doing this program is to provide another tool in the toolbox of our epidemiologists that will provide a signal of possible outbreaks, four to seven days earlier than we would otherwise get that information,” said CDPHE Environmental Programs Director John Putnam.

Eighteen collection sites have been created in the Denver metro area to collect raw sewage samples before they reach waste water treatment plants.

“Currently we are funding this project for $520,000. If we expanded, obviously that will cost more money, but we believe it is a small and prudent investment,” Putnam said.

After the samples are collected, they will be shipped to Colorado State University for analysis.

The CDPHE calls it “large-scale surveillance,” which covers about 500,000 people at just one collection site.

“The benefit it provides to the residents of Colorado is the ability to quickly deploy resources to try to catch and prevent outbreaks quickly so we can really prevent the spread of this,” Putnam said.

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