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City of Branson agrees to test wastewater for coronavirus

Submitted to Branson Globe

BRANSON, Mo – The City of Branson Utilities Department has agreed to participate in a state-wide program to sample the City’s wastewater for COVID-19 indicators that could help monitor trends and provide an early warning of new COVID-19 outbreaks.

This program is grant-funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and run by the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) as well as the University of Missouri – Columbia.

Raw wastewater samples are collected by communities across the state, including Branson, and then are submitted via courier to the University of Missouri. There, a team of scientists conducts a molecular analysis that looks for genetic markers of the virus.

“Not only is participating in this program cost-effective since the samples will be taken in conjunction with our normal sampling process but it will also provide important data to state officials that has the potential to protect the health and well-being of our community,” said Branson Utilities Director, Mike Ray.

While wastewater is not a significant transmission pathway for the virus, sewage surveillance is a proactive effort to inform the public and mitigate any virus spread. Sewage testing has identified the presence of the Coronavirus in areas where no cases have been reported. This gives those communities an early warning and potentially provides earlier notice for implementing prevention measures.

The City of Branson plans to conduct this monitoring for at least a year.

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