Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - Can Rochester’s wastewater give health officials another tool in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic?

We could find out later this year.

The city’s water reclamation plant is one of more than 50 wastewater treatment facilities in the state included in a study being conducted by the University of Minnesota Medical School. Researchers are hoping the study will help determine the level of COVID-19 infection in each community so health officials can develop more effective response plans.

The study is being led by Dr. Glenn Simmons Jr. and Dr. Richard Melvin of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Duluth campus.

“We know that there are a good number of infected people who are not actually symptomatic, so they may not qualify for diagnostic testing because they don’t present symptoms, but they are still infectious,” Simmons said. “We are looking at a way of getting a population-level understanding of how much infection exists within the community. And by doing that, we’ll then be able to monitor how well our state’s mitigation and treatment efforts are really working.”

Data for the study will be gathered through the fall, with the goal of sharing any findings with the Minnesota Department of Health and the scientific community worldwide.

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