Oregon State University has received a $1.2 million grant from the Oregon Health Authority to expand its Coronavirus Sewer Surveillance project.
The project collects sewage samples to be analyzed for the prevalence of genetic material from the virus.
The grant includes funding for wastewater testing in Bend, among other Oregon cities like Newport, Hermiston and Boardman.
In late May and early June, researchers began taking multiple samples from wastewater in Bend over a two-week period. The researchers found the samples had very little COVID-19 genetic material.
But when testing resumed on July 23 in Bend, “we started to see positive signals of the virus,” Tyler Radniecki, one of the study’s researchers, said.
“About the last week of July or so, we started to get what we call ‘moderate hits,'” Radniecki said. “These hits have been consistent now in the city of Bend.”
The project’s research team will sample and analyze sewage from 43 treatment plants around Oregon for the next 30 months.