Looking for more clues regarding the spread of COVID-19 in North Dakota, researchers at North Dakota State University are working with state health officials to test for the virus in wastewater samples from multiple communities, including Minot.
City of Minot workers take samples at two of the city’s largest lift stations – the master lift station that includes much of the main, older portion of Minot, including the hospital, and the 55th Street lift station in southeast Minot. Minot has been sampling wastewater two days a week, although NDSU processed samples from four days of Minot collections during a recent week.
Wastewater from throughout a wide area comes together in a lift station, and samples are drawn from this pooled collection. No samples can be traced to particular neighborhoods, private residences or businesses.
Generally, COVID-19 counts in samples from the master lift station have been higher than in samples from the 55th Street lift station, said researcher John McEvoy, head of the NDSU Microbiological Sciences Department. That difference began to narrow in mid-November. Both sites have shown increased viral counts, but counts have risen at the 55th Street station to largely match those at the master station. Both locations also saw a drop in counts this past week.