Mar 21, 2023 - COVID

Denver wants to test your poop for viruses

Illustration of a tiled wall with a COVID cell cut into a sheet of toilet paper on the roll.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

COVID-19 is waning in Denver, but the city's public health department is starting a program to replace a state-run effort testing wastewater for the virus.

Why it matters: The city wants to use the testing program to detect and track other viruses in the future, city public health department spokesperson Courtney Ronner tells Axios Denver.

Of note: The state began wastewater testing for COVID in August 2020.

Details: Denver's program started last week. Ronner said it differs from the state because it allows the city to test and review results in a more location-specific manner.

Between the lines: The city will focus on wastewater from Denver Public Schools, homeless shelters and other public facilities.

  • Officials say there is no indication of higher COVID transmission at these sites.

Zoom in: Wastewater testing collects data that can help hospitals determine what resources are needed to respond to an outbreak, CU Boulder assistant professor Cresten Mansfeldt tells Axios Denver.

  • Mansfeldt, who leads wastewater testing research at the university, said it can also be used to monitor viruses like the flu and norovirus.

The bottom line: Ronner tells us COVID-19 is currently being managed like an endemic virus — meaning health officials know its present but its spread and rates are predictable.

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