NM testing wastewater for coronavirus - Albuquerque Journal

NM testing wastewater for coronavirus

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Wastewater from toilets, showers and sinks in New Mexico prisons and juvenile facilities may help predict and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, thanks to a new program from the state Environment Department.

On Wednesday, NMED began sampling sewage at two Las Cruces institutions: the John Paul Taylor Center, a juvenile detention center, and the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility.

The samples will be sent to an out-of-state lab. NMED should learn in three to four days whether the wastewater contains SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Environment Department spokeswoman Maddy Hayden said the state’s southern region was chosen because of the high virus positivity rate and below-average testing rate.

“The science at this point is not something where we’ll look at the results and say there are 50 positive cases at this facility. It’s not that direct,” Hayden said.

Instead, the results can be used to identify trends and prompt additional nasal swab testing at the facilities.

The process detects concentrations of the virus in fecal matter.

Sewage testing has been used for early detection of polio and other diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dozens of U.S. cities and colleges, including New Mexico State University, are testing wastewater as an early indicator of COVID-19.

“SARS-CoV-2 can be shed in the feces of individuals with symptomatic or asymptomatic infection; therefore, wastewater surveillance can capture data on both types of infection,” the CDC website reads.

The initial sampling of some New Mexico jails and Children, Youth and Families Department facilities is funded by $300,000 from the federal CARES Act.

New Mexico Corrections Secretary Alisha Tafoya Lucero said the agency is grateful for the collaborative testing program.

“This is an exciting opportunity to detect COVID early in our facilities, driving testing strategies to protect our staff and inmate populations,” Tafoya Lucero said in a statement.

As of Wednesday, the New Mexico Department of Health reported 177 COVID-19 cases at the state-operated Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility.

NMED is contracting with Eastern Research Group Inc. for the sampling. The environmental monitoring company also works with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several states.

The team will test the facilities’ wastewater twice a week.

“It is dependent on resources, but the idea would be to expand to other areas of the state and possibly other congregate living settings,” Hayden said.

Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.

 

Home » ABQnews Seeker » NM testing wastewater for coronavirus


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
2 New Mexico tribes closer to recreational cannabis sales
ABQnews Seeker
Two New Mexico tribes have signed ... Two New Mexico tribes have signed an agreement with state officials recognizing the tribe's authority to collect taxes on sales of cannabis products. The ...
2
Fire growth slows to 1,000 acres
ABQnews Seeker
Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire could rally ... Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire could rally with Friday winds
3
Incumbent BernCo commissioner faces challenger
ABQnews Seeker
District 5 rep touts record of ... District 5 rep touts record of service
4
Cancer survivor sings the praises of community
ABQnews Seeker
'We should all be taking care ... 'We should all be taking care of each other,' he says
5
US House reps team up on bipartisan water, drought ...
ABQnews Seeker
Databases help groups weigh scarce water ... Databases help groups weigh scarce water conditions
6
False report of active gunman disrupts Santa Fe hospital
ABQnews Seeker
A bogus report of an active ... A bogus report of an active gunman at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe spawned a massive police presence at the ...
7
Documents detail rape allegations against shooter
ABQnews Seeker
Man who killed two teens and ... Man who killed two teens and himself was under investigation
8
GOP candidates for governor in TV debate Friday
2022 election
Topics include crime, abortion and the ... Topics include crime, abortion and the environment
9
APD: Man detained after lengthy standoff, shooting at police ...
ABQnews Seeker
A man is in custody hours ... A man is in custody hours after authorities say he fired at officers from a balcony Thursday evening in a Southeast Albuquerque neighborhood. Daren ...