If you thought that the most pressing issue in the pandemic was the excessive control by the government through masks and mandates for vaccination, be prepared to get to know the second problem…literally Number Two.
The Biden administration plans to keep track of the nation's sewage in hopes that they could stop the next outbreak of Covid. But some states aren't convinced that the federal government should be watching our bowel movements.
Health officials from the public sector believe that they are able to more rapidly detect and treat Covid cases, as well as other infections, through monitoring the amount of stool a person has. Wastewater experts have stated that the sewage surveillance programs have faced two main problems: privacy issues and logistical difficulties. They've had a difficult time working with water treatment facilities and also getting samples of sewage to a limited number of laboratories that utilize the same process protocols.
The government has invested over $6 million into LuminUltra, the private lab which could assist states that do not have the ability to control their water quality. But the company faced difficulties getting trust from local officials who didn't know the reasons behind the government's mandate for tests.
The Vice Director of Applied Services at LuminUltra, Mark McIntosh, declared that what the CDC has been trying to achieve isn't sustainable due to an oversight in their strategy.
The popularity of surveillance for wastewater grew during the outbreak because it could identify the coronavirus in an entire community before patients showed symptoms. The CDC was aware of this and announced a National Wastewater surveillance System (NWSS) at the end of 2020.
The system wasn't just created to detect Covid cases and the emergence of new variations, but it can also identify resistance to antibiotics or changes in the use of opioids or even an infection that could trigger the next pandemic.
However, since the system was launched in the second quarter of 2020, only 12 states have regularly provided details to NWSS as per the CDC. These include California, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
A federal expert claimed that it was an unfinished system and that it wasn’t at risk of falling apart as long as there is continued funding and participation. A CDC spokesperson said that they believe that the system is working and will try to increase the number of sites who sample the water.
States have informed that the CDC that they don't have the manpower or time to contribute to this plan.
Amy Kirby is a senior service fellow at the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch at the CDC. She explained, “They were busy trying to deal with the Covid pandemic. They were not able to afford the bandwidth to put together an entirely new surveillance system. We're sure we're asking a lot out of them.”
As with any excellent massive government system, the CDC has decided to offer 37 states around $36 million to encourage them.
Eric Coats, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of Idaho believes that people are frustrated by the speed of events.
Within North Dakota, the state health department was confronted by residents and lawmakers who expressed worries about the fact that wastewater data is publicly published. The CDC has plans designed to lure states into building their own long-term infrastructure for wastewater. However, one expert suggested it is possible that there is a problem with the Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the operation of wastewater treatment facilities, and is more sensitive to other activities.
However, it is clear that the CDC has been committed. They have established relationships, established systems, created them, and have invested funds. Federal government officials are fully invested in ensuring that the nation's sewers are fully monitored. They don't want to have all their efforts “flushed” away.