Westchester wastewater used to track Omicron variant

When you flush a toilet or take a shower in Westchester County, that wastewater ends up at a processing plant.

News 12 Staff

Jan 27, 2022, 11:02 PM

Updated 844 days ago

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Wastewater is being used to track the Omicron variant.
When you flush a toilet or take a shower in Westchester County, that wastewater ends up at a processing plant.
It's become a tool to help identify spikes in cases of COVID-19.
"People who are asymptomatic, people that don't have access to health care or testing facilities it's all in there," says Nat Federici, deputy commissioner of the Department of Environmental Facilities.
Federici says they have been testing what he lovingly calls "the soup" for COVID-19 for over a year and a half.
Samples are taken weekly.
"This is the sampling receiving area for each of our seven facilities. They are kept in this refrigerator for about a day, then they are sent down to New York City," he says.
The results helped identify the Omicron variant spike before data from hospitals and COVID tests were in.
It gave county officials extra time to determine where to allocate resources - and now it's charting the variant's decline.
It's important to note that the virus being detected poses no threat when treated water is released into waterways.
Because of the success of this study, officials say it could be adapted and used to track any future viral outbreaks.


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