This article came onto my radar and has so many bits of weirdness: https://www.mlive.com/coronavirus/2020/ ... pilot.html
The state is putting $10 million dollars into a new COVID-19 testing plan. Only this testing method doesn’t involve spit or a Q-tip up the nose. Instead of waiting in long lines, all people have to do is...poop.
“Since nearly 70 percent of Michigan residents rely on public wastewater systems, this COVID-19 surveillance program has the potential to provide critical, life-saving data on COVID-19 transmission within a large portion of Michigan’s population,” said department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Director Liesl Clark.
Sivy and her team have been testing seven wastewater plants around the Great Lakes Bay Region, but now they are likely going to add the Saginaw Correctional Facility, and more sites in the Thumb and Arenac County, she said.
They’ve also been testing SVSU’s wastewater for the last few weeks to make sure there isn’t a spike in cases as students return to school. At the University of Arizona, similar testing allowed the university to figure out not only which dorm coronavirus cases were coming from, but the two students that were positive.
“It’s a good way to do kind of a community testing, without individual testing but yet being able to, hopefully, isolate where it’s coming from to better gear your testing on individual humans,” Sivy said.
“The ability to predict outbreaks on college campuses, at nursing homes, prisons, and other congregate care facilities could be game-changer in our mission to slow the spread of this virus," said Clark.
The plan is for EGLE to coordinate sample collection, lab analysis, data reporting, and communication with local monitoring teams across Michigan.
On the one hand, science is cool. Less painful than swabs, plus increased knowledge about what areas are active with virus. On the other hand, whole can o worms with implications and precedent and inability to consent to testing or provide info.
I guess my takeaway is if you poop and your poop goes into a wastewater facility, and in your area's wastewater plant the virus is noticed, then regardless of if whether anyone infected is isolated or not (I doubt there's a way to tell this from everyone's gathered poop all combined), your whole area might be targeted for enforced isolation if that's the way officials want to go with it. The article also doesn't mention time periods, like whether wastewater is tested daily with fresh material, how tests and results are related to real-time. But how creepy would it be hearing something like "We've detected traces of virus in the wastewater in your county, but we can't tell you any details or who is contagious or whether they're isolated."
I'm assuming it's impractical to ask universities and nursing homes to get their individual waste water tested separate from the rest of the area that the wastewater plant services. This might narrow things down to a general area, but there's so many not-answered, unmentioned questions.