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Santa Barbara County teams up to test community wastewater for COVID

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Health experts have been trying to get the upper hand on the coronavirus during the pandemic. And now more attention is being placed on testing the community’s wastewater.

Health experts said the body sheds viruses of diseases the body is currently battling. Those non-infectious byproducts found in our waste can be tested to see what is present. Communities around the world are using this method to better test how much coronavirus is in the community.

Locally researchers at UCSB have teamed up with local South County wastewater treatment plants to test and study what’s in the community’s waste. Researchers can find out how much COVID is present to know how much could be spreading in the community as well as what variant is dominant.

Carl Palmer with the LegacyWorks Group said most of the funding for this research is privately donated. And having access to wastewater testing can let local health experts know weeks before State-funding testing on which variant is present. 

Currently, wastewater testing is happening in south Santa Barbara County. There is interest to expand for all of Santa Barbara County. After the pandemic is over this research can be used to detect other threats to the community’s health like diabetes or opioids. 

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Scott Sheahen

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