PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today announced $500,000 to fund a wastewater testing pilot project to provide early detection of COVID-19 throughout Yuma County.
“The wastewater testing pilot project in Yuma is a crucial step to expand an innovative technology that may help with early detection of COVID-19,” said Governor Ducey. “This initiative will help local public health officials make fact-based, community-driven decisions and best mitigate COVID-19 spread during the pandemic.”
The project is a partnership with Yuma County Public Health Services District, the University of Arizona, and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). It builds on the success of wastewater testing at University of Arizona dormitories to identify potential outbreaks, and will help the county further understand how wastewater testing may be used to inform public health in rural Arizona communities.
The testing pilot program will collect wastewater samples twice-per-week in locations across Yuma County and test for COVID-19. The University of Arizona’s Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture will analyze the samples at its Yuma lab, and share data with public health officials.
“This approach has shown promise at identifying COVID-19 transmission quickly and enabling a targeted public health response to mitigate the spread,” said ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ. “We’re eager to see the results when it’s applied in greater Arizona and applaud the collaboration that’s making it possible.”
The program will begin after completion of a joint plan between the University of Arizona and the Yuma County Public Health Services District. The pilot project will help determine whether community wastewater testing is a helpful early warning indicator for COVID-19 in rural areas, and how the testing technology may be applied to best identify potential hotspots for COVID-19 spread.
Yuma joins the City of Tempe, which has used wastewater testing to detect COVID-19 in partnership with Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute.
Today’s funding comes from federal coronavirus relief dollars through ADHS.