SOMERVILLE, MASS. (WHDH) - Somerville is launching a community wastewater testing program to monitor for coronavirus.

Mayor Joe Curtatone announced Thursday that the city is partnering with Northeastern University Asst. Professor Ameet Pinto of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Stantec for the program that is designed to reveal COVID-19 hotspots up to one to two weeks earlier than current individual testing.

“Adding wastewater testing to our COVID-19 interventions is like adding a smoke alarm to your house. It provides a warning before the problem gets out of control,” Curtatone said. “This new tool will greatly enhance our ability to detect and contain COVID-19 clusters in Somerville as they emerge. We all know now that widespread testing and contact tracing is critical to controlling the spread of the virus, and the earlier and the more comprehensive the testing is, the better we can reduce virus spread. This program will give us a head start.”

Testing is expected to begin this week, with up to 10 samples being collected per week.

Areas expected to be initially prioritized include the Tufts University neighborhood, areas with high concentrations of vulnerable residents or high density, and public schools once on-site classes begin.

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