Frederick Testing Wastewater to Study COVID-19

Frederick County is testing untreated wastewater at its largest plant in order to access the severity of the community’s COVID-19 outbreak.

In early May, Frederick County began testing wastewater at the Ballenger-McKinney wastewater treatment plant. Starting soon, samples from the City of Frederick’s Gas House Pike Wastewater Treatment Plan will also be included as a part of the testing program.

From the press release:

“Frederick County is leading the way in Maryland with this work,” County Executive Jan Gardner said. “We may be able to detect trends or a new wave of infections before it is widely spread in our community. This study puts another tool in our toolbox as we try to learn more about this highly contagious virus.”

“This is another great example of how all of the Frederick County Government divisions have stepped up to explore what they can do,” Frederick County Health Officer Dr. Barbara Brookmyer said. “This will serve as the closest we will get to a complete population survey in the areas served by the participating wastewater treatment plants. The samples are anonymous and represent the community as a whole and the amount of virus that is being shed. It is one more source of information that we can use to better understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus is impacting us in Frederick County.

Studying COVID-19 in wastewater will allow for public health officials to track trends and changes, possibly allowing earlier detection of a new wave of infection. Although there has been detection of coronavirus in samples, data is still under analysis.