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Wastewater Testing Underway in Ketchikan to Determine COVID-19 Presence 


May 17, 2020
Sunday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - According to the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Covid-19 can be detected in wastewater before someone becomes symptomatic, if they become symptomatic at all.  This is effectively a test on the presence of the virus throughout a large percentage of the community, rather than on a person-by-person basis.  The testing provides a forward-looking glimpse of what the curve is going to be, and, if performed regularly, may enable the community to anticipate and address an outbreak at an earlier stage.  
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The wastewater testing is done through the City of Ketchikan Wastewater Treatment Facility.  With the central location of the testing site, the EOC believes that it is capturing a substantial cross-section of the community that covers not only City residents, but the fish processing facilities, and the majority of the businesses and workplaces. The testing is conducted each week by collecting a 24-hour composite sample.  According to the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center (EOC), it is anticipated that this weekly testing will continue for at least 4 weeks. The samples are sent to a commercial laboratory which conducts a comprehensive analysis. Test results are expected to be returned in about seven days. 

The test results can help the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center (EOC) policy group make more informed decisions relative to when or when not to lift restrictions.  It can also help the policy group determine if the policy group wants to pursue antibody testing, and if so, the timing of such an endeavor. Finally, it can act as a baseline to track general infection rates.

The data will also be shared with the Alaska State Department of Conservation (DEC) for statewide consideration. The Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is also hopeful that they will also will receive data from other Alaska communities. Having the information will help to provide a picture of the presence of the virus which will assist local leaders in making decisions affecting Ketchikan’s, and Alaska’s, next steps.

On the Web:

EOC information and the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Ketchikan is updated daily on the COVID-19 Response page


Edited By Mary Kauffman, SitNews

Source of News:

Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

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