Ohio (WDTN) — Ohio is partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Cincinnati and Ohio Water Resources Center (Ohio WRC) at OSU to monitor water samples for COVID-19.

These samples are being collected from several of Ohio’s municipal sewage and wastewater treatment systems.

Scientist have found that virus fragments can be present in the feces of people who are symptomatic and asymptomatic. Through this research initiative, data from samples may provide an early warning of disease occurrence in communities and even an estimation of how prevalent it is.

According to the Ohio EPA, emerging science suggests the virus can be detected in wastewater about three to seven days before there are increases in cases and/or hospitalizations. 

This could help Ohio identify trends, virus presence and provide the time needed for communities to intervene before the virus can spread too far.

The research is being supported by $2 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding and is led by the Ohio WRC at OSU in coordination with the University of Toledo, University of Akron and Kent State University.

Ohio EPA believes that the research will expand to include other universities across the state with laboratory capabilities. 

The initial round of sampling is being coordinated with wastewater utility departments in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Akron, Toledo and Dayton.