Green River to Increase Wastewater Testing for COVID-19

Green River to Increase Wastewater Testing for COVID-19

GREEN RIVER โ€” During Tuesday night’s Green River City Council meeting, the Council voted unanimously not only to accept the Wyoming Department of Health’s (WDH) offer to extend the sampling period of Green River’s wastewater for COVID-19 Coronavirus, but also to have additional testing done by AquaVitas, LLC.

All of the testing costs are covered by Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding or through grant awards. The City of Green River is not responsible for any costs.

The sampling is done to test for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, in the community’s wastewater. This data can indicate trends and provide data to the Governor, State Health officer, County Health Officers, and local officials for informed decision making.

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The WDH is offering an additional $17,000 of CARES Act funding to continue testing of Green River’s wastewater over an extended period of time. This increases the total amount for the sampling to $45,000.

In addition to the WDH’s sampling, the Council also unanimously agreed to go forth with a contract with AquaVitas, LLC for them to begin sampling the city’s wastewater as well. The contract will be ratified at the January 5, 2021 meeting.

Dr. Adam Gushgari, AquaVitasโ€™ Chief Executive Officer, and Dr. Patricia Beckman said AquaVitas has been awarded a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health and Human Services (HSS) to identify the best practices for wastewater SARS-CoV-2 assessment across the United States.

AquavVitas will test Green River’s wastewater two days each week for the duration of the project starting on January 4. Green River is the only community in Wyoming so far to be a part of this project.

Gushari said the purpose of the tests is to test for COVID-19 and complete trend analysis. He said they can look at the effects on the community after certain mandates are put into place, such as mask mandates. This can help to inform decisions made at both the state and local levels.

He also said that the virus can show up in wastewater three to five days before on-set symptoms, which can help with early detection in the community. Additionally, wastewater testing gives a community-wide view of the virus’ impact while preserving individual anonymity.

Mark Westenskow, Green River Public Works Director, said he did not see the harm in signing the contract with AquaVitas, as it would allow for comparative data between the WDH’s studies.

“I think being able to do some comparative analysis and to be able to contribute our data to a nationwide effort, there’s really no downfall to that,” Westenskow said.