Wastewater Based Epidemiology (WBE) surveillance tool for the COVID-19 pandemic for counties identified at a greater vulnerability utilizing the US CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index(SVI)

Jessica Mosher, 2019, MBA, Krystin Kadonsky, Colleen C. Naughton, PhD, MS and Ryan G. Sinclair PhD, MPH School of Public Health, Loma Linda University

This project addresses the problem of a lack of consistent testing for SARS-CoV-2 for vulnerable populations in disadvantaged areas. The proposed solution is to use a wastewater-based epidemiology approach to detect SARS-CoV-2 in small communities, rural areas, and compartmentalized populations. This will allow a study of community infection dynamics and allow focus on low-income areas that have inefficient disease monitoring systems. This study collects GIS site information of all wastewater treatment plants and other monitoring programs across the United States. Those sites are shown on a map that is compared against the US CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index to visualize the coverage of wastewater-based surveillance distribution nationwide and at the state level. Our hypothesis is that this type of surveillance is uniquely positioned in affluent communities and may not yet provide important surveillance data for disadvantaged areas.