September 11, 2020 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Winnemucca, NV – In an effort to detect any spikes in Covid-19 cases as early as possible and instill confidence in the public regarding reported active cases in the community, the City of Winnemucca has implemented a Covid-19 wastewater testing program.
Several recent laboratory- and community-based studies have shown that the prevalence of Covid-19 can be monitored by testing the community’s wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Both symptomatic and asymptomatic persons infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus will begin shedding viral RNA into the wastewater shortly after infection. In some communities, researchers have found that spikes in the concentration of RNA in the wastewater can be detected approximately five days before the local hospital(s) will see a spike in testing and positive case numbers.
The City retrieves five wastewater samples per week. One is a global sample taken at the influent headworks of the wastewater treatment plant; the other four are taken at specific manholes, which represent collection points for four separate areas of the City. The City wastewater crew collects the samples every Tuesday, and preliminary results are typically received within five business days.
The City has collected 15 samples since August 18, 2020, and has received results on 10 samples to date. All of the results have come back below the detectable limit of 2.6 RNA copies per mL of wastewater. These results confirm that there is a very low number of active Covid-19 cases, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, in our community. The City will continue to monitor the SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels in the wastewater and share the results with County and School officials. The City hopes that the test results will become another tool available to assist with the difficult Coronavirus-related decisions people are making each day.
Funding for the wastewater testing program is provided by the City’s allocation of the Coronavirus Relief Fund which was disbursed by the State of Nevada based on the per capita allocation formula set by the CARES Act. If anyone has any questions regarding the City’s wastewater testing program and results, or the City’s allocation of the Coronavirus Relief Fund, please contact City Manager/Engineer Alicia Heiser at 775-623-6332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.