足球滚球比分

Virus being tracked in local wastewater

Part of a nationwide study
By 
Justin Post — Enterprise Staff Writer
Friday, May 1, 2020
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足球滚球比分Enterprise photo by Nate Howard

Russell Smith, the superintendent of Livingston’s Water Reclamation Facility, holds a vial to be filled with a sample of waste water to be submitted for coronavirus inspection.

Wastewater from Livingston’s state-of-the-art Water Reclamation Facility is being used to track the presence of coronavirus in the community.

The city of Livingston has partnered with Boston-area startup Biobot, which has roots in MIT, to analyze the city’s wastewater and estimate the extent of infection on an ongoing basis.

Russell Smith, superintendent of Livingston’s Water Reclamation Facility located on the city’s east side, said the data is being gathered as part of an epidemiological study in Livingston and other areas of the country.

足球滚球比分Smith, who said he has an interest in science, was reading about issues related to wastewater treatment recently and learned that Biobot was offering to work on a pro bono basis with communities operating wastewater treatment facilities.

足球滚球比分Smith reached out to Biobot and the company notified him that the city of Livingston would be included in the study.

The goal, Smith said, is to track the extent of coronavirus infections in the community and help local leaders and health officials navigate the pandemic, Smith said.

Testing the city’s wastewater may also help identify a more precise level of infection in the community, Smith said, as some people are asymptomatic and never get tested for the virus. Those who show no symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, will still shed the virus in their feces, he said.

Smith said a composite sample is gathered at Livingston’s Water Reclamation Facility over a 24-hour period using existing equipment and packaged for delivery to Biobot, which then analyzes the sample for the presence of COVID-19. 

足球滚球比分The company then uses flow rates and other data from the Livingston facility to make estimates on the number of infections in Livingston.

Biobot has so far returned results from three samples from Livingston, taken on April 5, April 12 and April 19. An analysis of samples from those three days point to a downward trend in infections, Smith said.

足球滚球比分He cautioned that the numbers are an estimate.

“It’s just an estimate so it’s not an exact thing because you’re trying to extrapolate from a bunch of unknowns,” Smith said.

Biobot estimated there were 15 coronavirus cases in Livingston from the April 5 sample. At that time, six people in Park County had tested positive for the virus.

The April 12 sample estimated there were five cases in Livingston and an analysis of the April 19 sample estimated there were zero cases, Smith said.

足球滚球比分“It was clear that there was likely a correlation with social distancing and it helped to attenuate the amount of cases potentially in our community,” he said.

足球滚球比分Dr. Scott Coleman, the medical director at Livingston HealthCare, said the downward trend identified by Biobot is a good indicator of the local response to new coronavirus.

足球滚球比分“That is entirely due to our efforts here in Park County to keep all of us safe,” he said in a video posted to the Livingston HealthCare Facebook page.

Park County Health Officer Dr. Laurel Desnick said the testing could be useful in helping health officials and local leaders identify changes in local infection rates.

“I think it’s a brand new technology, it’s experimental and maybe it will give us an early warning if we see viral loads increasing,” Desnick said.

足球滚球比分Biobot collaborated with researchers at Harvard, Bringham and Women’s Hospital, and MIT to kick off its efforts focused on mapping COVID-19 across the United States, the company’s website states. The program at this point is being offered on a pro bono basis, the website states.

The company said in an email to The Livingston Enterprise that it’s currently working with roughly 200 facilities in 38 states, which it said represents about 15 percent of the United State’s population.

Smith said he’s pleased the city of Livingston and its wastewater treatment facility was able to be among the participants in the COVID-19 study, and hopes the data it generates in the coming  months will assist local leaders and heath officials.

“I am not a health care scientist, I’m just a wastewater operator who happens to like science,” he said. “These are exciting times for our community to show that we as a small community can make a difference in helping to control the spread.”

Smith said the city’s cost for the first round of testing was $720 and covered things like shipping and some equipment. The cost for testing in May will likely be about $480 but costs will increase after the company ends its work on a pro bono basis, Smith said. He said the Park County Community Foundation picked up the tab for the initial phase of the project.

足球滚球比分Livingston City Manager Michael Kardoes said the city is looking at funding the project for about a one-year period at a cost of $50,000 to $60,000. He said the data would serve as an indicator of what impact things like tourism have on bringing coronavirus to the community.

足球滚球比分“Those folks are going to be using the sewer system while they’re here,” Kardoes said. “It’s another point of data that we can use as we try to make decisions.”

足球滚球比分Livingston Public Works Director Shannon Holmes agreed.

“I think it’s just another pertinent data point that we can certainly provide to our regulatory authorities, be it city manager, city commission, county commissioners, public health officials and emergency operations staff,” Holmes said. “Really, with the three reports that we’ve received, I think there’s some confidence with the data and the results that we’ve received.”

Holmes added that any additional data on coronavirus in the community will be helpful for decision makers as businesses reopen and tourists return to the area.

“You can use science to alleviate fear and do the right thing and help get the economy going again,” he said. “It takes some politics out of it hopefully.”

足球滚球比分Kardoes said the city is next week kicking off an informational series about the coronavirus issue on its Facebook page. The series will include historic data about the virus from Park County on Monday, a look at Gallatin County’s historic data on Tuesday, a statewide look at the virus on Wednesday and information about the Biobot study on Thursday. The city plans to host a Facebook Live event on Friday, with an opportunity for the public to submit written questions to be answered by city officials.

For more information about the series, visit the city’s Facebook page.