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Chicago’s sewage is helping the city track COVID-19

toilet
Sutichak / Adobe Stock

Chicago health officials are now tracking the spread of COVID-19 infections through a non-traditional source: the city’s poop. The city recently joined statewide and national efforts to monitor our sewage for levels of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Since people with COVID-19 actually shed the virus in their poop, health officials now have another tool to help keep tabs on infections.

This week the Chicago Department of Public Health released its most recent wastewater COVID-19 surveillance report based on samples collected last December from three main water treatment plants and sewer sites they’re targeting in seven neighborhood areas spread throughout the city.

The results aren’t necessarily surprising. The wastewater data confirmed that during the last two weeks of December, COVID-19 infections increased across all the seven neighborhood zones where samples were collected. The data also showed an increase in the samples collected from all three treatment plants.

Read more: Every time you poop, you’re helping Chicago health officials track COVID