Indiana Borough and Biobot talk wastewater with Together Indiana
Learn more about the Together Indiana campaign at togetherindiana.com.
INDIANA, Pa. (Nov. 19, 2020) – The Borough of Indiana announced today that it will incorporate into the Together Indiana outreach campaign information about the level of coronavirus infections detected at its wastewater treatment plant.
For several months, the Borough has been working with Biobot Analytics, a Boston-based firm that has developed technology for quantifying the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. Indiana is one of 360 wastewater facilities that are now part of Biobot’s network for tracking COVID-19.
Michael Foote, Borough Manager, noted that the Borough has been working with the research team for several months.
“We’ve seen – and Biobot confirms – that there is a correlation between infection levels and the number of cases that we see a week or two into the future,” Foote said, noting that the Borough receives infection data every week. “This enables us to provide an early warning to members of our community, who may then be able to take action to avoid contracting and spreading the virus.”
If the trend shows infections increasing, Foote said, people can take steps to tighten up their adherence to protocols to avoid the virus, and if the trend shows infections declining, the public will know that the masking, hand-washing and safe-distancing protocols are working.
“The specific data points don’t mean much to members of the public, but knowing whether trends are up or down gives folks one additional piece of information to help them make decisions,” Foote said. “For example, if I know infections are increasing, maybe I’ll decide to order take-out from a restaurant rather than eating in, or maybe I’ll be more vigilant about avoiding crowds.”
Borough Council President Peter Broad said the Borough began working with Biobot before launching the Together Indiana outreach campaign, but is now rolling the two together in hopes of strengthening public support for safe practices.
“We’re at a confluence of events that makes safe practices even more important,” Broad said. “We have virus fatigue, colder weather and an increasing number of cases. At the same time, there was exceptional news recently regarding development of vaccines. If we collectively take a deep breath and do what we need to do to avoid the virus, we can make it through this – together.”
Biobot is a team of biologists, epidemiologists, data scientists, urban planners, and engineers. Since Biobot first successfully quantified SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater in March 2020, they have worked with hundreds of communities across the United States and Canada to map the novel coronavirus concentrations in sewage over time. To date, Biobot has generated data representing over 10% of the U.S. population and 5% of the Canadian population. Wastewater epidemiology is now deployed across six continents to help combat COVID-19.
"Wastewater epidemiology is a powerful tool in providing early warning of outbreaks and helping communities open up schools and businesses safely,” said Newsha Ghaeli, President and Co-Founder of Biobot Analytics. “We're proud to be a partner with Indiana Borough in this growing nationwide effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 with wastewater epidemiology."
Together Indiana is an outreach and education initiative created to provide a unifying voice for community members as we work to combat the coronavirus. Together, we’ll help maintain our economy, respond to community needs and provide services and resources to the residents and businesses we serve.
To view the latest infection trends, visit the Borough website at www.indianaboro.com.