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COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 Wastewater Dashboard

Clemson University monitors virus levels in sewage at three wastewater treatment plants to provide information on the extent of infected individuals at the community level. One on campus services the campus community plus a small subdivision located within the City of Clemson. The Cochran Road treatment plant services the City of Clemson to the west and north of Highway 93. The Pendleton/Clemson treatment plant services the Town of Pendleton and the City of Clemson that is east and south of Highway 93. Samples are collected over a 24 hour period (representing a “composite”) on a weekly or bi-weekly basis from the “headworks,” the location where all of the sewage enters the treatment plant.

The detection limit is ~1,000 copies per liter. When concentrations are below ~10,000 copies per liter, it is unlikely that there is active transmission in the “sewershed.” Between 10,000 and 100,000 copies per liter, there is reason to pay close attention to the potential for transmission; these levels can serve as an early warning sign that the virus is starting to spread exponentially. Levels above 100,000 copies per liter are associated with rapid increases in the numbers of infected individuals. Levels above 1,000,000 copies per liter are associated with numerous individuals within a community who are infected and shedding the virus. Additional samples are being collected within the campus sewershed to identify areas where infections may be concentrated.

Monitoring variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is important since variants may be more contagious and escape protection from vaccination or immunity from previous infection. Beginning with wastewater samples taken on March 2, 2021, analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was expanded to include two variants: B.1.1.7, also known as the United Kingdom (UK) variant, and B1.351, also known as the South African (SA) variant. The same molecular test used to quantify the original virus is used, except that the test is highly specific for the RNA that is uniquely associated with the variants. The results are reported as a percentage, meaning the variant RNA copies per liter are divided by the total RNA virus copies per liter. When none of the variant RNA is detected, the percentage is zero. When all of the total RNA virus detected consists of a variant, the percentage is 100.

COVID-19 Testing Dashboard Public South Carolina Data (SCDHEC) Public National Data (CDC)