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Boston establishing 11 wastewater COVID-19 testing sites

Molecular biologist Emanuel Wyler examines wastewater samples for pathogens, including coronavirus, in a laboratory in Berlin, Germany. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Molecular biologist Emanuel Wyler examines wastewater samples for pathogens, including coronavirus, in a laboratory in Berlin, Germany. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Boston is planning to establish 11 wastewater testing sites across the city to help monitor for spikes in the COVID-19 virus.

The head of the Boston Public Health Commission said the city is partnering with vendors to create the sites as COVID-19 levels in wastewater across the region have begun rising.

Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Boston's public health commissioner, said the city will be sampling water from the sites on a weekly basis. Ojikutu said the testing will also help the city monitor for the appearance of new variants of the disease.

Ojikutu made the comments during a Boston City Council meeting Monday according to The Boston Globe.

The city is currently receiving information pulled together from Boston and 22 other nearby locations. City health officials hope the Boston testing sites will help them understand what's happening at a neighborhood level.

The city is tapping $3.9 million in federal funding to pay for the project.

Coronavirus levels in Eastern Massachusetts wastewater have been on the uptick in recent weeks.

Tracking levels of the virus in wastewaster can serve as a kind of early warning signal, detecting changes even before people are able to be tested and the results reported to public health officials.

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