Smart Talk Tuesday: Sewage tested for COVID-19 show more cases in Dauphin County; Rural real estate sales explode during pandemic

Dauphin County may have had at least ten times more COVID-19 cases than reported by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. That’s one of the findings of tests being conducted on sewage by an MIT research firm — Biobot Analytics.

Capital Region Water is one of about 400 systems across the country participating in the research.

The virus can be detected in human waste and that includes those who may have contracted the coronavirus but didn’t show any symptoms. The first two samples from Dauphin County in May indicated infection rates of 4.5% and 5.6% — ten times higher than those being reported by the state.

The data collected may help identify hotspots for the disease.

Appearing Tuesday’s Smart Talk to discuss the sewage research are Charlotte Katzenmoyer, CEO of Capital Region Water; Jess Rosentel, Director of Wastewater Operations, Capital Region Water; and John Quigley, Former Secretary of both the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and currently the Director for the Center for Environment, Energy & Economy with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

Also on Tuesday’s Smart Talk, rural real estate sales are booming in Pennsylvania during the COVID-19 pandemic as more people are looking to rent short-term, buy second homes, or relocate altogether to somewhere with a smaller population.

Joining us on Smart Talk are Jessica Lautz, Ph.D., Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights at the National Association of Realtors and Sandy Stevens, a realtor with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services in Wellsboro, Tioga County, Pennsylvania.