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A startup wants to map the spread of novel coronavirus by sampling human waste in US sewer systems

A startup is turning to sewer systems to help study an ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. 

Called, Biobot, the group – which was created by researchers from MIT – plans to collect samples of sewage systems from across the US with the goal of creating a map of the virus as it spreads.

The idea comes amid new research that suggests that the novel coronavirus causing the global pandemic of COVID-19 is shed through feces.

In addition to helping map the virus, the method could also help decrease reliance on traditional testing from kits which have been slow to materialize in the US and elsewhere around the world. 

Testing is surging across the US, as companies develop at-home tests and samples are sent to labs from drive-thru test sites across the US (pictured)

Testing is surging across the US, as companies develop at-home tests and samples are sent to labs from drive-thru test sites across the US (pictured) 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has pushed out more of its test kit and Admiral Bret Giroir of the of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps said that as of Tuesday, some 59,000 Americans had been tested. 

‘In some diseases, people excrete viruses before they show symptoms, meaning that sewage can provide an early indicator of disease spread before people start seeking care,’ wrote Biobot cofounders Mariana Matus and Newsha Ghaeli in a blog post.

Biobot’s method could also help glean data from people who haven’t even exhibited symptoms yet since the testing doesn’t require identification of ill people.

In addition to helping get a firmer grasp on outbreaks like the one creating COVID-19, it could help health officials guide public policy, predict the impact of a particular virus, and also monitor the efficacy of mitigation methods. 

Biobot, which originally used its expertise to track the opioid crisis, says it could send its test kits to sewage treatment centers or other wastewater facilities where workers could extract samples and then send them back to their lab for testing.

The company’s team of biologists, epidemiologists, data scientists, urban planners, and engineers would then analyze the samples and send data back to local governments or other necessary authorities.

Biobot has employed similar methods previously by analyzing opioid molecules at wastewater facilities.

The company isn’t currently testing coronavirus spread for governments but has called on officials to join its efforts by filling out a form on their website.

CORONAVIRUS STATE-WIDE SHUTDOWNS

ALABAMA

Gov. Kay Ivey issued statewide shutdowns of all beaches, child care facilities, dine-in restaurants and other services effective 5pm March 19. 

All public schools are closed until April 6. 

This extended previous rules closing day cares, senior centers and on-site restaurant dining across six counties and banning public gatherings of more than 25 people across the state.  

ALASKA

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced March 16 that state-run libraries, museums and archives will be closed through the end of March.

Schools are closed to students until March 30.

Anchorage banned dine-in service from 5pm Match 18 until March 31.

Theaters, gyms and bingo halls closed through March 31.

The mayor of Anchorage signed the order Monday closing gyms and entertainment venues and barring restaurants, bars and other establishments from offering dine-in service to the public through the rest of March. 

ARIZONA

All schools closed through March 27. 

Arizona’s Country Thunder music festival scheduled for April 16-19 in Florence is postponed. 

Visitors banned in most hospitals and clinics. 

Gov. Doug Ducey ordered the shutdown of bars and dine-in options in counties affected by the coronavirus.  

The action came after several Arizona cities — including Phoenix, Tucson, Tempe and Flagstaff — had issued their own bans.   

ARKANSAS

Arkansas’ schools will remain closed through April 17 and sit-down service at all restaurants and bars were banned from March 20. 

All schools closed from Tuesday. 

Arkansas casinos, gyms and other non-essential businesses also closed.

Mayor Frank Scott issued a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. from March 18 in Little Rock

PENNSYLVANIA 

All liquor stores and licensee service centers will close indefinitely at 9pm on Tuesday.

Gov Tom Wolf extended the shutdown to the entire state of Pennsylvania on Monday bar essential services.

A new list was released March 20 citing the ‘life-sustaining’ businesses that may continue operating during the shutdown: All sectors of the natural resource and mining industry, dry cleaning and laundromats, specialty food stores, insurance carriers, agencies, and brokerages, and accounting and tax preparation services. 

Barber shops, nail and hair salons, tattoo shops, and similar services will shut from 8pm on March 21. 

LOUISIANA 

All bars, nightclubs, casinos, movie theaters, gyms and health clubs will be closed until April 13. Restaurants may open for take-out options only.

Governor John Bel Edwards said the new restrictions take effect Tuesday and will last until April 13.

Public gatherings of 50 people or more will be banned. No one will be allowed to eat onsite at a restaurant. 

In heavily Catholic New Orleans and in Baton Rouge, church leaders announced cancellation of masses until further notice. 

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has been postponed. 

CONNECTICUT 

Gatherings of more than 50 people banned.

Bars and restaurants shut indefinitely for dine-in customers.

Clubs, bars, cinemas, gyms shut indefinitely.

Hospitals across the state are restricting visitation, and some, including UConn Health in Farmington, have announced the indefinite postponement of elective surgeries. 

Barber shops, nail and hair salons, tattoo shops, and similar services will shut from 8pm on March 21. 

MASSACHUSETTS

Gatherings of more than 25 people banned.

Bars and restaurants to offer take-out only until April 7.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is shutting down construction sites across the city. Walsh also announced all branches of the Boston Public Library will close.

NEW JERSEY 

Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all non-essential retail businesses close their stores and all residents to stay home on March 21. 

This exempts essential workers such as those in healthcare and food.

All weddings and parties are banned.

This marked an extension on previous measures which included:  

Barber shops, nail and hair salons, tattoo shops, and similar services to shut from 8pm on March 21. 

Hoboken residents ordered to isolate at home for a week from March 17. 

Curfew from 8pm – 5am; gatherings of more than 50 people banned; bars and restaurants shut indefinitely for dine-in customers, but can offer take-out.

Clubs, bars, cinemas and gyms shut indefinitely. 

Indoor malls, amusement centers, public and private schools, colleges and universities closed.  

NEW YORK   

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a new order on March 20 that 100 percent of non-essential workers must stay home, upping the rule from 75 percent.

The only workforces that are excluded are grocery stores, pharmacies, certain government workers and news organizations. 

People can go outside but are urged to stay indoors as much as possible.

Bars and restaurants shut indefinitely for dine-in customers, but can offer take-out. Clubs, bars, cinemas and gyms shut indefinitely.

Barber shops, nail and hair salons, tattoo shops, and similar services shut from 8pm on March 21.  

New York City – Eateries could only accept takeout and delivery orders. Mayor Bill de Blasio also ordered nightclubs, movie theaters and other entertainment venues closed.

New York City announced its public school district, the nation’s largest, will be closed starting Monday, joining most of the rest of the country.

New Rochelle – one mile containment area set up.

ILLINOIS 

Bars and restaurants shut to dine-in customers until March 30.

The Governor of Illinois announced a stay at home order on March 20, ordering people to only go out for exercise, to the grocery store, to seek medical care or to pick up take-out from restaurants that have stayed open. 

The shutdown of Illinois elementary and high schools will be extended through at least April 7.

KENTUCKY 

Bars and restaurants shut to dine-in customers until March 30. 

The Democratic governors of Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington on Monday all ordered the full or partial closure of certain categories of businesses. 

OHIO 

Bars and restaurants shut to dine-in customers, but can offer take-out.

Ohio marked St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday with no parades and no primary election over fears of the coronavirus. Health Director Dr. Amy Acton issued an order late Monday shutting down polls Tuesday. 

Youngstown State University and Capital University in Columbus were among those announcing the cancellation of May commencement ceremonies, saying they couldn’t comply with restrictions severely limiting the size of gatherings. 

Ohio’s Roman Catholic bishops suspended all publicly celebrated Masses through Easter on April 12, extending an earlier suspension of services through Palm Sunday one week earlier. 

OKLAHOMA 

Public schools closed at least until April 6.

Oklahoma’s governor declared a statewide emergency Sunday evening.

The Oklahoma Legislature approved sweeping changes to the state’s Open Meeting Act on Tuesday to allow government bodies to meet via teleconference. 

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt both ordered the immediate shutdown of bars, while restaurants can serve only take-out orders. Similar measures were also imposed in Stillwater and Norman, including orders that theaters, gyms and amusement facilities must also close.

Officials with the Remington Park horse track in Oklahoma City said it was closing to the general public and races would be held without spectators.

The archbishop of Oklahoma City announced Tuesday that all public masses and liturgies at Catholic churches in the archdiocese of Oklahoma City would be canceled through Easter Sunday, April 12. 

MICHIGAN 

Bars and restaurants shut to dine-in customers indefinitely, but can offer take-out. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has banned more than 50 people in a gathering at a time.

Whitmer issued a sweeping order Monday banning dine-in customers at restaurants and closing all bars, movie theaters, gyms and other sports facilities to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The measure was to last through March.

Besides those restrictions, all Michigan schools are closed. 

WASHINGTON 

Restaurants and bars ordered to shut temporarily.

Gatherings of more than 50 people banned for at least two weeks.  

MINNESOTA

Dine-in restaurants and bars ordered to shut through March 27 beginning Tuesday evening.

Gov. Tim Walz ordered bars and restaurants across Minnesota to temporarily close to customers who dine in. 

Delivery and curbside takeout services may continue to operate. The temporary closure also applies to other places of public amusement, including theaters, museums, fitness centers and community clubs. 

Affected businesses must close by 5 p.m. Tuesday. While the governor’s order runs through March 27, he said he’ll likely end up extending it. Supermarkets, pharmacies and other retailers are not affected. 

OREGON  

Gatherings of more than 25 people banned. 

Restaurants and bars allowed to offer take-out only.  

Gov. Kate Brown on Monday banned on-site consumption at bars and restaurants around the state for at least four weeks in a bid to slow the spread of the new coronavirus and said gatherings will be limited to 25 people or fewer.

Restaurants can still offer takeout or delivery, she said at a news conference. 

Gov. Kate Brown announced an extension of her previous statewide school closure order to combat the spread of coronavirus, saying now schools will be shuttered until at least April 28. 

Only essential medical and emergency personnel can visit residents of long-term care facilities statewide, except for residents who are in the end stages of life. 

CALIFORNIA 

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday issued an unprecedented statewide ‘stay at home order’ directing the state’s 40 million residents to hunker down in their homes for the foreseeable future effective immediately. This was an extension of the shelter in place rule already issued across parts of the state, including San Francisco, and Palm Springs. 

Disneyland closed to the public. 

‘Few if any’ California schools will reopen before summer break, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Los Angeles extended its citywide ban on restaurants until at least April 19, from the previous order until March 31.

WASHINGTON D.C.

Restaurants, bars and clubs to shut down by 10pm Monday, with take-out and delivery still available until April 1.

Health clubs, spas, massage parlors and theaters to shut down.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a state of emergency.

Organizers of the popular Cherry Blossom festival, which was scheduled to begin March 20, announced that several events would be postponed. 

Officials recommended that all ‘non-essential mass gatherings, including conferences and conventions,’ be postponed or canceled through the end of March. 

Georgetown University joined the growing list of higher-learning institutions to cancel in-person classes. 

MARYLAND

Bars and restaurants shut indefinitely for dine-in customers, but can offer take-out.

Clubs, bars, cinemas and gyms shut indefinitely.

FLORIDA 

In Florida, Walt Disney World and Universal-Orlando closed Sunday night for the rest of the month, joining their already closed California siblings.

Farther south, Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale closed their beaches, where thousands of college spring breakers flocked.

All bars and nightclubs are set to close. 

Officials in Clearwater Beach, Naples voted to close the beach by Monday March 23, while others along the Gulf Coast in Florida’s southwest communities are also being closed.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an order limiting parties on beaches to 10 people per group, but after Spring Breakers flouted the rules, said stricter control will be rolled out.

All movie theatres, concert houses, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, arcades, gymnasiums, fitness studios and beaches were shut in Broward County and Palm Beach County from March 20.

All restaurant dining areas and gyms in the state shut March 20 with immediate effect. Restaurants can offer take-out and delivery orders.

All hotels in Florida Keys closed down March 20. 

NEVADA   

Casinos throughout Nevada were closed Wednesday, along with other nonessential businesses, under an order from Gov. Steve Sisolak.

All public, private and charter K-12 schools in the state will be closed Monday until at least April 6 in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Monthlong closure of non-essential businesses like bars, movie theaters and gyms. Restaurants must shutter their dining rooms and only offer takeout or delivery. 

COLORADO

Colorado’s 12,000 bars and restaurants are limited to takeout and delivery orders under a 30-day ban on gatherings of 50 people as the state expands testing to try to brake the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Jared Polis said Monday.

Polis also announced the closure of all theaters, gyms and casinos until further notice. 

Vail Resorts said it will keep its North American resorts closed for the rest of the ski season.

People arrested for low-level crimes will no longer be booked into jail. 

INDIANA  

Bars, nightclubs and restaurants closed for dine-in with and takeout allowed until the end of March.

Honda said Wednesday that it will shut down plants in North America, including one in Greensburg. 

RHODE ISLAND 

All restaurants, bars, coffee shops shut down for dine in until March 30.

Drive-thru and delivery services remain open. 

The Rhode Island Statehouse will be closed to visitors and certain popular government services will be curtailed.

The popular, downtown Providence Place Mall will be shut down. 

Catholic churches in Rhode Island are suspending Mass services. 

VERMONT 

Bars and restaurants can only serve takeout from Tuesday night.

All pre-K-12 schools in Vermont must close no later than Tuesday  

DELAWARE 

Gov. John Carney directed that restaurants and bars in Delaware restrict their operations to take-out, drive-thru and delivery services.  

GEORGIA 

All public schools and universities closed. 

A large outdoor music festival in Atlanta has been postponed until fall. Organizers of the Shaky Knees Festival on Wednesday said the event featuring headliners the Black Keys, the Strokes and Smashing Pumpkins is now set for Oct. 16 to 18.

HAWAII   

Visitors asked to postpone their island vacations for at least the next 30 days.

Directive that all bars and clubs close and that restaurants shift to serving food through drive-through, takeout and delivery service. Gatherings to be limited to a maximum of 10 people. 

The National Park Service said the Pearl Harbor National Memorial has closed temporarily. 

IDAHO 

Gov. Brad Little said state is adopting federal guidelines that include avoiding social gatherings of more than 10 people. 

The guidelines also call for not eating or drinking in bars, restaurants and food courts, but to use drive-thru or pickup options. Little also recommended avoiding discretionary travel and shopping.

Boise: State of emergency declared Monday, city buildings closed with the exception of the Boise Airport 

IOWA 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered restaurants, bars, fitness centers, theaters and casinos to close for two weeks. 

Also bans events of more than 10 people, including parades, festivals, conventions and fundraisers, in line with federal recommendations. 

KANSAS 

Kansas State University to teach remotely. 

In Kansas, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Monday banned public gatherings of 50 or more people for the next two months. 

All of the state’s K-12 schools to close and to move lessons online for the rest of the spring semester. 

MAINE 

Maine’s largest city, Portland, declared an emergency and adopted a curfew to prevent the spread of the virus on St. Patrick’s Day.

The curfew applies to establishments where groups gather all day Tuesday and from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. from Wednesday to Saturday.

 L.L. Bean is closing all of its retail stores across the country, including its flagship store in Freeport, Maine, to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

The North Haven Select Board voted Sunday to ban visitors and seasonal residents immediately to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to the Penobscot Bay island, where there have been no cases yet. 

A growing number of municipalities declared emergencies and imposed curfews. 

MISSISSIPPI 

Casinos, public universities and school districts closed until further notice.

Mississippi legislators are suspending their work until at least April 1. 

MISSOURI 

Restaurants, bars and movie theaters ordered shut for 15 days in Kansas City metro from Tuesday 

MONTANA 

Public schools closed for two weeks.

Billings, Missoula, Bozeman, Butte and Helena restrict restaurant openings.

NEBRASKA 

Omaha bars and restaurants limited to 10 and under patrons.

The Douglas County Board of Health issued an order limiting gatherings within the county, which includes Omaha, to no more than 10 people. The order also says that a venue must be large enough for all people in any gathering to be at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart from each other.

The order is effective through April 30. 

NEW HAMPSHIRE 

Restaurants will be restricted to take-out, schools are shut down and large public gatherings are being banned in an effort to contain the coronavirus in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire’s directive, which extends until April 7, also will ban public gatherings of 50 people or more. 

Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and affiliated hospitals are no longer allowing visitors. 

NEW MEXICO 

Restaurants and bars to operate at 50 per cent capacity; tables must not seat more than six people, and must be separated by at least six feet.

 NORTH CAROLINA 

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is ordering all restaurants and bars be closed to dine-in patrons.

Cooper’s office announced he would issue a new executive order directing the closings effective at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The establishments can continue to offer takeout and delivery. 

NORTH DAKOTA 

No mandated closing of restaurants and bars.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum issued an executive order closing schools across the state for one week beginning Monday. 

 PUERTO RICO 

Two-week closure for the majority of businesses; 9pm overnight curfew through March 30.

Puerto Rico Secretary of State Elmer Román said at a press conference on Monday that no one is allowed to go to the beach. 

On Sunday, Gov. Wanda Vázquez ordered a two-week closure of nonessential government offices and commercial businesses except for gas stations and those in the food, health and finance sectors. Puerto Rico also cancelled major events, including an Ironman race scheduled for this past weekend. 

SOUTH CAROLINA 

Charleston banned gatherings of more than 50 people outside of stores and private offices. 

Columbia restricted businesses to no more than half their legal occupancy and won’t allow more than six people to sit at a restaurant table. 

Schools closed from Monday 

SOUTH DAKOTA 

No current plans to close restaurants or bars.

 The governor signed a state of emergency order last week, requesting public schools to close and ordering non-essential state employees to work from home. 

South Dakota public universities announced on Monday that all classes will move online next week after an extended spring break. 

TENNESSEE 

 All bars closed in Nashville; restuarants ordered to operate at no more than 50 per cent capacity.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Monday asked schools to close, exhorted people to avoid crowded bars 

TEXAS 

Austin joined other major cities statewide in closing bars and restaurant dining rooms to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Texas Capitol in Austin also will be closed to the public. 

SXSW canceled.

The University of Texas System on Tuesday instructed its eight academic campuses to, effective immediately, move all classes online for the rest of the spring semester and postponed graduation ceremonies until the fall.

El Paso closed its bars and ordered restaurant capacities cut in half.

Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough ordered the island city’s bars and restaurants to close, as well as all public amusement venues, including museums, the Pleasure Pier and Moody Gardens. 

Houston has also enacted restrictions on bars, clubs and restaurant 

US VIRGIN ISLANDS 

State of emergency declared 

All public schools closed for at least three weeks from Wednesday  

UTAH 

Salt Lake City shuts restaurants to dine in customers and bars; take out continues. 

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert ordered statewide dine-in closures at restaurants, bars and other eateries while health officials in the national parks hot spot of Moab halted new overnight tourists.

Authorities also closed restaurants, except for takeout, and other public places like theaters and gyms in Grand, Carbon and Emery Counties. 

VIRGINIA 

Gov. Ralph Northam bans public gatherings of more than 100 people. 

All K-12 schools to close through at least March 27. 

WEST VIRGINIA 

So far, West Virginia has just one coronavirus case. 

WISCONSIN   

Bans on 50 people or more gatherings; bars and restaurants limiting customers. Gov. Tony Evers ordered that child care settings have no more than 10 staffers and 50 children present at the same time.

WYOMING 

Dine in customers banned at restaurants and bars.

Airlines are wrapping up winter-season flights to Jackson Hole weeks earlier than usual. 

The resort and two others in northwest Wyoming — Grand Targhee resort and Snow King Resort — have shut down early. 

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Written by Angle News

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