Bergen County testing wastewater for COVID-19 to predict virus risk
Bergen County officials say that researchers will be testing the county’s wastewater for COVID-19 to protect residents from the virus.
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco says that researchers can open manholes or go to the water treatment plant and test a water sample for the virus. From there, the county can use that data as a predictor to see whether or not people are getting sick or if there will be another spike in coronavirus cases.
Once a COVID-19 vaccine is available, analysts will be able to see if the vaccine is working or if some neighborhoods in the county aren’t getting or taking the vaccine if the RNA is still present in the water.
Tedesco says that researchers could test the wastewater coming out of a nursing home or critical care facility to see if people inside are at risk.
“So, if all of a sudden, we see an uptick, [we can] go in there and start talking to people, ‘What's going on? Maybe you need to segregate people, maybe you need testing every day,’” Tedesco says.
Bergen County teamed with Columbia University to get this program started. The testing started in May. Officials say that it is especially important in Bergen County which is experiencing over 200 cases of COVID-19 per day.