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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2024                 



Milwaukee Health Department Launches COVID-19 Wastewater Testing Dashboard

MILWAUKEE – The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) is introducing an online dashboard for COVID-19 wastewater testing. Shifting away from monitoring individual cases, the new dashboard utilizes wastewater data to detect COVID-19 trends ahead of clinical settings.

In collaboration with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), MHD has started  COVID-19 testing in wastewater, with results uploaded to the new dashboard. Laboratories can assess the virus's concentration in wastewater based on collection sites (or sewersheds), providing valuable insights into changes in COVID-19 cases.

Previously, the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences managed wastewater data sent to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in Madison, WI. With the new online dashboard, the MHD Laboratory now generates and directly shares data for swift analysis.

“As COVID-19 continues to persist in our community, MHD's wastewater testing amplifies our commitment to the city’s well-being. Serving as an early warning system, this approach provides real-time, comprehensive insights into infection levels. By detecting the virus before symptoms manifest, we can proactively allocate resources, make informed decisions, and implement timely interventions to safeguard the health of our community,” explains Commissioner of Health, Dr. Mike Totoraitis. “I am grateful for the collaboration and support of our partners, UW-Milwaukee and MMSD, who have been instrumental in making this initiative possible.”

The online dashboard, covering South Shore and Jones Island sewersheds, enables users to track COVID-19 trends in Milwaukee County. Featuring trendlines and a stoplight warning system, the dashboard facilitates informed decision-making for necessary precautions.

Collaboratively, the laboratory and MMSD collect and analyze samples twice weekly. Using advanced molecular technology, results are promptly accessible on the dashboard. Additionally, MHD is working towards using this technology to monitor respiratory illnesses like influenza and RSV, showcasing a commitment to public health.

“We are grateful to have MMSD as a partner and talented laboratory staff that make this work possible. Now, we are eager to explore other ways wastewater testing can be utilized to help us further protect our community’s young and vulnerable populations,” said Dr. Lucas Beversdorf, Assistant Lab Director at the MHD Laboratory. 

For more information on wastewater data, the dashboard, and its applications, visit milwaukee.gov/Coronavirus. To understand more about why MHD is transitioning to wastewater-based COVID-19 monitoring, click here. Individuals with questions can email MHD here.

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