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Maryland Searches Sewage for SARS-CoV-2

Maryland has launched a state-wide program to test wastewater for SARS-CoV-2, the Washington Post reports.

In April, researchers from Biobot Analytics reported that they could detect SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater samples from Massachusetts from after the pandemic began, but not before. Universities and cities have since turned to testing by Biobot or others to identify COVID-19 hotspots. For instance, the University of Arizona identified two people with asymptomatic illness after uncovering SARS-CoV-2 in sewage from their dorm, and Chicago plans to begin testing its sewage for the virus.

According to the Post, Maryland started a pilot wastewater testing program in July that focused on five counties. This, it adds, provided state officials an idea of where the virus might be surging. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, announced the state would spend $1 million to roll the program out statewide, an effort the Post reports kicked off in mid-December.

"It's one of the tools in the toolbox," Manoj Dadlani, the CEO of CosmosID, which is analyzing the Maryland samples, tells the Post. "It can't solve everything, but it's a useful tool in terms of decisions, in terms of policy and ramping up testing."