Washington, DC, May 31, 2023 — The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has selected four local health departments in the states of Washington, Oklahoma, California, and Arizona for the 2023 Wastewater Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 mentorship program. The program, now in its second year, supports local health departments in implementing and expanding their wastewater surveillance efforts to detect COVID-19.
A mentor is a local health department with demonstrated experience in utilizing wastewater surveillance to track SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) and is matched with mentee local health departments seeking guidance, tools, and resources to navigate the early stages of developing a wastewater surveillance program.
Mentor: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Washington ($15,000)
Serving the large jurisdiction of Tacoma and Pierce County in Washington, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) has extensive experience in establishing a successful wastewater surveillance program, and the department currently tests wastewater samples twice a week for COVID-19 and Mpox, with flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus testing to be added soon. TPCHD will guide mentee sites in implementing or expanding their own programs through providing technical guidance, sharing tools and resources, and recommending best practices for overcoming barriers. Additionally, TPCHD has subject-matter experts available for support in epidemiology, Geographic Information Systems analysis, and communications, all of which are vital components in developing highly effective wastewater surveillance systems.
Mentee: Cherokee Nation Public Health Department, Oklahoma ($10,000)
Representing the Cherokee Nation Reservation in Oklahoma, a mostly rural reservation home to the largest federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States, the Cherokee Nation Public Health Department (CNPHD) will increase its proactive response efforts against COVID-19, particularly among vulnerable communities. During its time in this program, CNPHD will implement a wastewater surveillance program by utilizing mentor and partnership opportunities to generate protocols and best practices, building departmental capacity through trainings and developing an intuitive dashboard system to generate timely and actionable data.
Mentee: San Mateo County Health, California ($9,995)
San Mateo County Health (SMCH) represents a large area in the Silicon Valley region of California, where the department currently partners with two external agencies to perform wastewater sampling at four of the eight wastewater treatment facilities in the county. The department will use this mentorship program to share and obtain knowledge while building capacity for wastewater surveillance. As a mentee, SMCH seeks to expand its work by implementing wastewater sample collection at three new facilities and begin testing at its own public health lab. Also, SMCH hopes to develop a wastewater surveillance plan that includes a dashboard, alert system, and communication plan.
Mentee: Pima County Health Department, Arizona ($9,988)
Pima County Health Department (PCHD) has been involved in wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 since the inception of the CDC’s National Wastewater Surveillance System and has since expanded its own program to include mpox monitoring. As a mentee, PCHD seeks to gain further technical assistance and recommendations as the department communicates its wastewater surveillance findings with impacted communities, while also continuing to expand program capacity. The health department’s specific goals include creating an ethical communication and intervention toolkit, developing staff capacity to effectively present data to its communities, and identifying additional targets of interest that will meet the community’s public health needs.
NACCHO and Wastewater Surveillance
Launched in 2022, NACCHO’s pilot cohort of the Wastewater Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 mentorship program featured Tempe’s health department in Arizona as the mentor and New York state’s Chautauqua and Genesee/Orleans counties as mentees.
For more resources related to wastewater surveillance, visit NACCHO’s program page.
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The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation’s nearly 3,000 local health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. For more information about NACCHO, please visit www.naccho.org.