The city of Augusta is testing its wastewater to detect COVID-19.
"We will have a snapshot of time that is not dependent on either the testing activities of others or where they might be in the progression of the illness."
Economic Development Director Keith Luke says the city will conduct the testing weekly to better track virus levels in the community. He also says that says early detection would give officials time to act to contain potential outbreaks.
"One of the actions could be to increase educational efforts. To inform everyone from restaurants to retailers that we need to take further precautions."
Luke says Augusta received a federal grant that will cover the cost of testing through October.
Countries such as Germany, Finland, and the Netherlands are using wastewater surveillance to track COVID-19, and some public health experts in the United States have called for a national wastewater testing program. The virus has been found in individuals' stool samples before symptoms develop.
Updated 2:05 p.m. July 24, 2020