Montgomery Co. monitoring wastewater for COVID-19

In Maryland’s Montgomery County, wastewater is now being monitored to detect COVID-19, with the aim of getting ahead of any winter surges.

“Wastewater surveillance will be a game changer for our efforts to better predict outbreaks and prevent them from happening,” said County Executive Marc Elrich, in a news release.

“With winter around the corner, we want to be prepared if there is another surge in COVID-19 cases and this surveillance system helps us do that.”

The county first announced plans for the surveillance in March.

The county is collecting water samples twice a week at five sites and sending them to the University of Maryland for analysis. The data then goes to the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services.

The sites are at the following locations:

  1. Reddy Branch – 2611 Brighton Dam Road, Brookville, Md. 20833
  2. Arcola – 2001 Henderson Ave., Wheaton, Md. 20855
  3. King Farm – 315 Pure Spring Crescent, Rockville, Md. 20850
  4. Hoyles Mill – 15001 Hoyles Mill Road, Boyds, Md. 20841
  5. Wexford – 21225 Seneca Crossing Drive, Germantown, Md. 20876

People who have COVID-19 shed the virus in their feces, even if they do not have symptoms.

The information collected from the wastewater is collected on a data dashboard that indicates how many cases of coronavirus the five areas have per 100,000 people.

The data dashboard is updated weekly.

Similar efforts are underway to monitor wastewater in D.C. and Virginia.

Colleen Kelleher

Colleen Kelleher is an award-winning journalist who has been with WTOP since 1996. Kelleher joined WTOP as the afternoon radio writer and night and weekend editor and made the move to in 2001. Now she works early mornings as the site's Senior Digital Editor.

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