Delaware sewers may hold better evidence on true spread of coronavirus

NEW CASTLE COUNTY, Delaware (WPVI) -- Testing people may not be the best way to see how much coronavirus is in a community. Testing sewers may be better.

New Castle County, Delaware is analyzing its sewers in a high-tech way to track the amount of coronavirus in the county.

An analysis made by BioBot, a startup connected to MIT, estimates more than 15,000 COVID-19 infections as of April 15, 10 times what conventional tests confirmed.

BioBot looks for traces of the virus in wastewater.

The company was founded by female scientists at MIT.

New Castle County executive Matt Meyer says he's always in search of more data to tell him more about the presence of the coronavirus and better inform decisions to be made.

Meyer says the first reading was eye-opening.

"It's both a little scary to realize there's more there than we thought, but also a little hopeful because it may indicate there are a lot more antibodies than we realize," says Meyer.

"You can get tests from different substations. You can then say, 'OK, these are where our top three hotspots are, and we should focus our testing there,'" he adds.

BioBot's tests in Los Angeles County roughly aligned with what antibody tests showed.

New Castle County is doing weekly wastewater tests with BioBot.

MORE COVID-19 COVERAGE

Reopening Pennsylvania: Understanding the target numbers under Gov. Wolf's plan

Pennsylvania expanding curbside pickup at liquor stores

New Jersey tech company aims to donate 1 million face masks

Headache, loss of taste among list of 6 new possible COVID-19 symptoms, according to CDC

Blue Angels, Thunderbirds to fly over Philadelphia on Tuesday

COVID-19 RESOURCES

Keeping Reusable Shopping Bags Sanitized and Germ-Free during COVID-19 Outbreak

How to get groceries, supplies, takeout, online workouts and home projects while quarantine

Things for everyone to do to pass the time at home

Great homeschooling and educational resources for parents and students

Free 6abc printable activities for kids to do at home

Work from home: Here are some companies hiring remote workers

CONNECT WITH US

Share your coronavirus story with Action News

Complete coronavirus coverage from Action News
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.