(CBS DETROIT)– Throughout the pandemic water departments throughout the state have been using wastewater samples to test where COVID-19 is detected. One of those communities is in Macomb County where recent test samples show a possible decline in infection rates in the area.

“Since the first of the year there’s be a significant decline, if fact I would say the numbers are falling off a cliff. We actually tested 3 times since the first of the year, and the numbers are down significantly,” said Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller.

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Since the start of the pandemic Macomb and other Counties have used samples from waste water as a way to predict a COVID outbreak in certain areas.

State health officials say tests show the presence of COVID-19 in untreated sewage 1-2 weeks before an outbreak is reported by health officials. Knowing this ahead of time helps communities establish a plan to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“Of course, the hospitals continue to be in crisis as we speak but again our numbers are a precursor by a week or two so hopefully we’ll see some good news coming out of this,” Miller said.

Miller says they collect waste water from 7 different zones in Clinton Township which gives them a diverse demographic and is a great barometer for the County, the samples are then tested through the county’s health department.

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She says the highest infection rates of the pandemic showed in samples tested at the end of December 2021.

She hopes the significant infection decline showing in this month’s samples is an indication that cases are truly decreasing.

“This darn pandemic has just affected all of us in such a terrible way but some how we gotta get through it,” said Miller.

Sampling is conducted every week and the grant that funds the project goes through July 2023.

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