Mar 2 2022
73 | Ensuring Equity as Wastewater Testing for COVID-19 Matures in the United States
Sewage has proven to be a valuable source of real-time SARS-CoV-2 data during the COVID-19 pandemic, giving public officials insights into the health of their community without relying on individuals getting tested. But as wastewater monitoring expands, local officials and their research partners are increasingly interested in how wastewater testing might also advance or hinder equity.
On this episode of On the Evidence, guests Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, Dr. Otakuye Conroy-Ben, and Aparna Keshaviah discuss the challenges of and opportunities for ensuring an equitable approach to wastewater monitoring and the importance of representation from historic Black neighborhoods, Indigenous communities, and rural communities. Jelks, Conroy-Ben, and Keshaviah are involved with the Wastewater Action Group, a national initiative founded and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute that seeks to transform wastewater data into public health action. The group includes five grantees that serve tribal nations and four cities: Atlanta, Houston, Louisville, and Tulsa.
• Jelks, an assistant professor in environmental and health sciences at Spelman College, is an expert on health equity and community-engaged research approaches for environmental justice in southwest and northwest Atlanta’s African-American neighborhoods.
• Conroy-Ben is an assistant professor of environmental engineering at Arizona State University, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, and the principal investigator for research and community outreach projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to support tribal nations in combatting coronavirus and improving local resources.
• Keshaviah is an applied biostatistician and principal researcher at Mathematica who is a nationally recognized expert in translational wastewater research, has led wastewater-based research in Montana and North Carolina, and is collaborating with the Rockefeller Foundation to develop robust analytics and tools that boost the capacity of public health personnel to use wastewater data.
Find a full transcript of the episode here: https://www.mathematica.org/blogs/ensuring-equity-as-wastewater-testing-matures-in-the-united-states
To learn more about the Wastewater Action Group and the Rockefeller Foundation’s broader wastewater activities, contact Megan Diamond, who leads its international wastewater initiatives: email@example.com
Learn more about the Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts to deliver an equitable and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic while helping to guard against future pandemics: https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/covid-19-response/
Learn more about Mathematica’s work harnessing evidence on wastewater testing, vaccines, rapid antigen tests, and contact tracing to guide the COVID-19 pandemic response: https://mathematica.org/focus-areas/health/covid-19