BUTTE — Butte can track COVID-19 in the community through swab testing - and by this way.
The company Biobot Analytics has been taking samples from the Butte wastewater treatment plant and has found the concentration of COVID-19 in human waste has quadrupled in one week.
“It’s too much and we’re increasing too rapidly,” said Butte Health Department Director Karen Sullivan.
Standard testing shows that Butte has jumped from an average of 5 new cases a day to about 15 a day. While the wastewater tests can’t confirm positive cases in individuals, it does show the virus is spreading.
“This would be a very good indication that more people in our community have it and I would wager that more people in our community have it and don’t know,” said Sullivan.
Health officials are encouraging more people to get tested and avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing, and wear a mask.
“This could impact our high-risk population in town, and Butte is an aging community, I think that we have to collectively care,” said Sullivan.
The increased concentration of COVID-19 found in our wastewater is evidence that the virus is increasing in the community and if this continues, they’re going to have to take action.
“So we’ll be talking about it and what will it take for us to remain in phase two in Butte or what would it look like to return to components of phase one,” said Sullivan.
The health department gives free, drive-up COVID-19 tests to anyone who wants one next Saturday, Oct. 17th from noon to 4 p.m. in the parking lot of the Butte Plaza Mall.