A Different Way to Monitor COVID-19 Cases

AECOM is leading with innovation during the COVID-19 crisis. The company has partnered with municipalities on a different way of monitoring COVID-19 cases: wastewater testing. Wastewater monitoring is a proven method of infection monitoring that can identify viral RNA shed into the wastewater system by infected individuals before they even feel symptoms. Similar methods have been used to eradicate other viruses such as poliovirus and measles, and to address public health concerns such as opioid concentrations, norovirus and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, informing public officials of real-time cases in a state, city, or neighborhood. Wastewater testing can detect COVID-19 occurrence or re-emergence up to 2 weeks before patients develop full symptoms and allow focused testing and mitigation measures. It can prevent the spread even better than test-trace-isolate. Swab tests can miss significant numbers of infected people, and even more of those who are infected but not showing symptoms. By the time residents of a community start showing symptoms and individuals get tested, community transmission may already be accelerating and hard to control. Wastewater testing can track infection hot spots better, faster and at a lower cost than exclusive reliance on individual testing. If, as expected, COVID-19 resurges in autumn, this method of viral tracking can help public officials respond quicker and avoid shutting down a wider population of people than needed. For more information about this program, please contact Tim Volz (<>).

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