Fecal matter in New Castle County suggest higher number of COVID-19 cases than recorded

Officials in New Castle County are using your poop to try and figure out just how many people are infected with COVID-19.

“This company is doing a study. They took waste water samples from 100 different waste water treatment plants in the country. We were only allowed to provide one sample of week for the next four weeks," Michael Harris, with Storm Water and Environmental Programs, told FOX 29.

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Those samples are coming straight from the Wilmington Wastewater Treatment plant and being sent to a MIT startup called Biobot. They then analyze the data for a specific element.

“They extract the viral RNA from the sample and they make estimates based on how much RNA is present, about how much the virus is present, and multiplied by the flow to the treatment plant and that’s how they came up with an estimate of 15,200 people have been exposed to the virus," Harris explained.

That’s nearly 15 times the recorded number of lab confirmed cases in New Castle County.

County executive Matthew Meyer says this number is important to recognize to highlight the seriousness of COVID-19.

“There are many, many, many asymptomatic contagious individuals in our community. The first lesson to us in terms of policy the immediate lesson is that we have to continue to be clear, you gotta wear a mask when you’re outside," he said.

On the flip side, that high number might also be a promising indication of things.

“It might be a little bit of good news because the more people that have this and are asymptomatic it means the hospitalization rate and the fatality rate of the disease is a lot lower then a lot of public reports are saying,” he added. Second of all, the anti-body which might mean immunity may actually be much more prevalent than we think it is.”

This data could help focus resources to highly infected areas that aren’t necessarily known right now


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