DPI, IDPH Launch COVID-19 Tracker

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced a new website that tracks the levels of COVID-19 in wastewater samples in Chicago and other cities across Illinois. The interactive online tool builds on the statistics posted on the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker website and provides more Illinois-specific data in easy-to-understand charts. On the new site, visitors can search by city or county for up-to-date figures and trendlines from any one of 75 wastewater treatment plants around Illinois that are voluntarily collecting samples of raw sewage to be screened for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Samples are collected twice a week and taken to a high-throughput lab at the University of Illinois Chicago for analysis and then to Argonne National Laboratory for genetic sequencing to identify virus variants. Monitoring wastewater for the coronavirus has been proven to be an accurate and cost- effective way to measure COVID-19’s presence in a community. Genetic material from viruses and other germs is excreted in the feces and urine of infected people, eventually showing up in the raw sewage piped into purification facilities. DPI, which is part of the University of Illinois System, began its wastewater surveillance effort in 2020, partnering with UIC and Argonne as well as Northwestern University, which assists in data modeling and analytics.

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