Water Institute Affiliate Faculty, Drs. Tara Sabo-Attwood (WI Faculty Advisory Committee member; Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental & Global Health) and Joe Bisesi (Assistant Professor of the Department of Environmental & Global Health) teamed up with other UF experts from public health, microbiology, and toxicology as well as medical and facilities personnel to develop a wastewater surveillance system that can accurately detect COVID-19 in the University of Florida’s wastewater. GatorWATCH, which stands for Wastewater Analysis and Tracking for Community Health, monitors wastewater from 28 UF residence halls, campus apartment complexes and fraternity/sorority houses that empty into UF’s wastewater treatment infrastructure, alerting the UF Health Screen, Test & Protect initiative when the virus is detected.

The wastewater surveillance system has thus far detected the virus in wastewater of residences where nasal-swab methods had already identified positive cases. As cases decrease, GatorWATCH can provide clues to where the virus might linger — and where other public health threats could pop up.

The UF team is also conducting wastewater sampling for the city of Gainesville and the Gulf Coast town of Cedar Key.

“This really shows the impact of environmental science in context of public health,” Sabo-Attwood said. “I’m proud to use our expertise to rapidly and effectively improve the public health of our community.”

Read the full story by Alisson Clark here.