Macomb Co. launches program to test sewage for coronavirus

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Macomb County has launched a pilot program to test sewage for coronavirus in an effort to locate hotspots of the microbe at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said Wednesday.

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said testing is scheduled to begin next month.

“Providing information not only to our medical professionals, but to the public as well, is foundational to fighting this disease," 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 hot spots will be critical as we re-open our economy.”

Miller said her office is working with Oakland University and Michigan State University on the project, which will create seven sample collection sites in Clinton Township. Samples will be collected twice a week and sent to OU or MSU for testing. The schools will provide data to the Macomb County Health Department for review.

The project is to run throughout summer 2020 and then be evaluated for any potential modifications and then further expansion.

Miller said the project can be easily expanded to include other areas throughout the county.

She also said the project’s ultimate goal is to provide an online public dashboard to allow local residents to see the data for themselves.

The initial pilot has a budget of $1 million and is being funded by money the county received from the federal CARES Act, according to the commissioner.

“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," she said. "We believe this project can provide critically needed information to our health care professionals.”

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez