CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – Sewage samplings that were taken by the City of Cape Canaveral indicate that the number of coronavirus cases spiked in the small beach town from 0 to 85 during SpaceX’s Demo-2 launch of U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station on Saturday, May 30, 2020.
In early May, the City of Cape Canaveral announced that it was taking part in a low-cost four-week program to help map COVID-19 across the United States with a company called Biobot Analytics.
By sampling raw sewage at the Cape Canaveral Wastewater Treatment Facility, the technology detects fragments of the genetic material of the virus from people who are actively shedding the virus in their stool.
• Week 1 Report (May 6th): Virus concentration per liter of sewage 0 copies.
• Week 2 Report (May 12th): Virus concentration per liter of sewage 0 copies.
• Week 3 Report (May 19th): Virus concentration per liter of sewage 0 copies.
• Week 4 Report (May 26th): Virus concentration per liter of sewage 14,737 copies which correspond to 85 cases of COVID-19.
Due to delays at Biobot, City staff received results of week #2 and #3 on Friday, June 12. On Wednesday, June 17, City staff received results of week #4.
This information was provided by the City of Cape Canaveral to the Brevard County Emergency Operations Center for coordination with County health officials.
The City notes that case estimates may not match the confirmed case numbers in the community for a variety of reasons.
The fourth week’s higher test result findings coincide with the preparation and launch period of the Demo-2 Mission when large numbers of people gathered to view the liftoff and are not quantitatively associated with resident infections.
Due to the inconsistency of the results and the significant delay between sampling and receipt of the reports, the City issued a statement that is securing additional testing services with a laboratory that provides a faster turnaround time. Results will continue to be reported to the Brevard Emergency Operations Center for coordination with County health officials.