As COVID-19 cases rise, Plattsburgh is testing waterwaste to identify outbreaks


The City of Plattsburgh is collaborating with SUNY Plattsburgh and the Clinton County Health Department to test wastewater to help identify potential outbreaks of the coronavirus.

“It will tell us the overall level of what the disease is in the community and we can track that and see that it’s rising well before people become symptomatic,” Mayor Colin Read said.

The City’s Environmental Manager for the City of Plattsburgh, Jonathan Ruff, said they are not able to pinpoint the location of a positive case with the data.

“We are only collecting it at the entry point of the wastewater plant so it would be representative of the entire city, including the college, plus a substantial portion of the town,” Ruff said. 

The mayor believes any bit of information to show you what’s coming is helpful.

“Especially if you can do it from everybody, through wastewater and not just rely on people who feel sick and then going out and getting tested, by then they are already a week or two down the path,” Mayor Read said. 

President of the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, Dr. Alexander Enyedi, said testing has become a major effort on campus. They are conducting pool surveillance, a saliva testing method for students on and off campus.

“It takes twelve samples and combines it into one tube, and then you can run that sample to see if there is a positive,” Dr. Enyedi said. “We are able to run thousands of samples in one particular testing day.” 

The City of Plattsburg is asking residents to keep up with guidelines including social distancing, wearing a mask, and avoiding gatherings.

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