Macomb County conducting sampling for COVID-19 hot spots

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published June 4, 2020


MACOMB COUNTY — On May 27, the Macomb County Public Works Office announced it had launched a pilot project to determine the effectiveness of sampling and studying sewage in relation to COVID-19.

The sampling process, which would locate and trace any potential hot spots related to the virus, was scheduled to begin this month. Seven collection sites are located in Clinton Township.

Working with Michigan State University and Oakland University, the MCPWO will provide data for review to the Macomb County Health Department. The office said the ultimate goal is to provide an online public dashboard where local residents can review the data for themselves.

Funding for the project will be paid by monies received from the federal CARES Act. The initial project is budgeted at $1 million.

“Providing information not only to our medical professionals, but to the public as well, is foundational to fighting this disease,” MCPWO Commissioner Candice Miller said in a statement. “We believe there is a real opportunity here to be a part of the solution, and we are working as quickly as we can toward that goal. This ability to detect potential hotspots will be critical as we reopen our economy.”

Samples at each township site will be collected twice per week, then specially packaged and sent to either or both of the two aforementioned universities for testing. Miller said that if the project proves successful, there is a possibility for expansion into other county areas.

“Through this (project) we hope we can identify certain neighborhoods or parts of a community where there is a hot spot,” Miller added. “Our goal is to provide that information to the (Macomb County) Health Department, so they can better target their contact tracing or other actions they may be able to take to reduce the community risk.

“Obviously, this isn’t something our engineers ever thought they would be working on, but our team jumped on this right away and put together a solid plan, utilizing the expertise of our local universities. We believe this project can provide critically needed information to our health care professionals.”

The project is expected to run throughout the summer and will be evaluated for any potential modifications, then further expansion.