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RFA: Wastewater Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 Mentorship Program

Feb 02, 2023 | Andrea Grenadier

*The deadline for this RFA has been extended to 11.59PM ET, Friday, March 10, 2023.*

To support local health departments in implementing and expanding their wastewater surveillance efforts for COVID-19, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is now accepting applications for the 2023 cohort of the Wastewater Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 Mentorship Program. NACCHO is currently seeking applications for three (3) mentee sites and one (1) mentor site. Each mentee site will receive up to $10,000 each, the mentor site will receive up to $15,000.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how accurate and timely data is the cornerstone of emergency preparedness and response. However, limitations arose with traditional surveillance systems in keeping track of the spread of the virus since it captured mainly symptomatic individuals who sought out care and those who had access to COVID-19 testing. Wastewater surveillance is a more inclusive, non-invasive, and inexpensive method of disease surveillance that brought a better picture of community-level infections while also complementing existing COVID-19 surveillance systems.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can be shed in the feces of symptomatic, pre-symptomatic, and asymptomatic individuals. Since nearly 80% of households in the United States are connected to a municipal wastewater collection system, sewage serves as an efficient pooled sample to provide information on community-level and subcommunity-level infections and trends. Wastewater surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 can serve as an early warning system for communities, as cases can be detected through wastewater surveillance up to 3 to 4 days before detection is possible with individual testing. Access to information earlier can help direct resources (I.e., individual testing and vaccinations) accordingly and inform decision-making to limit the spread of the virus. Wastewater surveillance is an efficient and robust tool to track the community spread of COVID-19 and has the potential to be used for other emerging threats, like monkeypox and poliovirus.

This mentorship program will help to support local health departments in implementing and expanding their wastewater surveillance efforts for COVID-19. Local health departments with demonstrated experience in utilizing wastewater surveillance to track SARS-CoV-2 will be matched with LHDs in the early stages of developing a wastewater surveillance program and who are looking for guidance, tools, and resources for making progress toward meeting their community needs.

Eligible programs must:

  1. Represent a local health department or other local government agency. “Local” is here defined as organizations working at county, city, or community levels. Private entities are not eligible for funding through this opportunity;
  2. Mentors: Applicants applying to serve as mentors should demonstrate subject-matter expertise and experience leading a wastewater surveillance program;
  3. Mentees: Applicants applying to become mentees should demonstrate interest and need in developing and/or expanding wastewater surveillance in their jurisdiction, and how this mentorship program will guide them through this process.

NACCHO will support Awardees to:

  • Participate in monthly virtual meetings.
  • Share tools, resources, and lessons learned throughout the program.
  • Complete a pre-assessment (both mentors and mentees) and post-assessment (mentees only).
  • Connect with subject-matter experts on wastewater surveillance.
  • Participate in an end-of-year webinar to share lessons learned.

The program is anticipated to start on March 15, 2023, and run through July 31, 2023.

Applicants must submit their completed application and all supporting materials via email to [email protected] by the extended deadline of 11:59 PM ET, Friday, March 10, 2023.

For questions or concerns regarding the application, email [email protected].

An informational webinar was held about the RFA; view the webinar recording and slides. Please note that no new information was shared during the call.


About Andrea Grenadier

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