City finally delivers COVID poop data
- But Chicago just released its first poop-derived COVID data last week.
- And the city's first report doesn't reveal much, except that cases rose from the beginning to the end of December, which we already knew. January data is unavailable.
- Eight months ago, the state put at least $5.5 million into a sister surveillance system that expects to share its first data in February.
Driving the news: That data could soon become pretty useful.
- Hundreds of millions of free home tests are about to land in American mailboxes, including locally, and Illinois is one of the many states that doesn't require residents to report their results.
- So poop surveillance may prove a helpful barometer of falling or rising local cases even if people don't test, report or even know they are infected.
Yes, but: Researchers told WBEZ last week that the data is more useful for tracking trends than actual case numbers. Different people shed different levels of virus in their poop, plus, storm water can dilute the samples.
What's next: Researchers told WBEZ they hope to deliver more timely and specific (even neighborhood level) data as the program progresses.
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