Led by VT colleagues in Environmental Engineering (Dr.s Pruden & Vikesland – pictured), the purpose of this study was to develop a coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) surveillance program based on the analysis of wastewater samples collected over the 2020/21 academic year from different buildings and sites on the Virginia Tech (VT) university campus. This type of wastewater-based epidemiology approach has been used by other researchers, as well as wastewater utilities, to monitor SARS-CoV-2 (i.e., the virus that causes COVID-19) load trends and to attempt to estimate future trends. Our primary research objective was to assess whether wastewater samples at the dormitory level could help predict future cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection, via testing the water for viral loads. The overarching goal of our research for this project was to help support the VT administration with their efforts to monitor and control SARS-CoV-2 infections on the VT campus. We pre-specified our statistical analysis plan (uploaded to OSF) and expect to publish our findings by/before early 2022.
Led by colleagues at the Virginia Department of Health (Dr. Degen), UVA (Dr. Taniuchi), Radford University (Dr. Tolliver), and others, we are also assisting the Roanoke Health District with analysis of wastewater sample data collected at sub-sewershed scales in and around the Roanoke City (VA) region.