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Sewage data analyzed in Silicon Valley wastewater treatment plants confirms that the latest wave of coronavirus infections is sharply worse than the ones in the spring and summer.

Officials in Santa Clara County have been routinely testing solid waste samples in sewage to detect levels of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 as part of a project funded by Stanford University.

The virus can be found in human stool and detected in people who are not showing signs of illness, and scientists have investigated whether testing wastewater can reveal trends about how common the coronavirus is in the community.

Preliminary evidence shows the method can be helpful. Analysis of settled solid matter in wastewater conducted in the spring and early summer showed that as virus levels in wastewater went up, so did weekly coronavirus case rates in the region.

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