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Coronavirus Testing in Duluth-Area Beaches

illustration of covid-19 molecule

Credit: Centers for Disease Control illustration.

Project purpose

To monitor surface water near eight Duluth beaches for the presence of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

Why do this

The project aims to provide the sound, scientific information that public officials, the tourism industry, and Minnesotans need to make informed decisions about water recreation activity.

Project partners

With Minnesota Sea Grant support, sampling of beaches began in the summer of 2020 as a cooperative effort among the University of Minnesota Medical School - Duluth, University of Minnesota Institute for Health Informatics, UMN School of Public Health, and Minnesota Department of Health.

Project description

Minnesota Sea Grant funded a research project to test for SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, at eight Duluth-area beaches during the summer of 2020. Water samples from each beach were taken once each week (Friday through Sunday) from August through the end of September. Tests of each water sample took about three to four days to process. The tests were used to tell us two things:

  1. If there was detectable evidence of humans in the water. This is done by checking for the presence of a pepper virus (pepper mild mottle virus - PMMoV) that appears in the feces of people who have eaten peppers. Animals do not typically eat peppers, so the presence of the pepper virus is how we tell people were in the water.
  2. If there was any detectable SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the water.

Results

TEST LOCATIONS:
Pine Forest Preserve
Park Point Beach House
Lafayette Community Center
15th Ave Harborside UMD Boat House
13th Beach/Franklin ("Tot Lot")
Leif Ericson
42nd Ave E
Brighton Beach/ Kitchi Gammi
TEST DATES: Is SARS-CoV-2 detectable?
7/4/20 No No No No No No No No
7/10-7/12/20 No No No No No No No No
7/17-7/19/20 No No No No No No No No
7/24-7/26/20 No No No No No No No No
7/3 -8/2/20 No No No No No No No No
8/8-8/9/20 No No No No No No No No
8/15-8/16/20 No No No No No No No No
8/22-8/23/20 No No No No No No No No
8/29-8/31/20 No No No No No No No No
9/5-9/6/20 No No No No No No No No
9/12-9/13/20                
9/19-9/20/20                
9/26-9/27/20                

Funding

This project is supported by a Minnesota Sea Grant 2020 Program Development Grant.

Lead scientist(s)

Richard Melvin
Assistant Professor
Department of Biomedical Sciences
University of Minnesota Medical School
University of Minnesota Duluth
218-726-8807
melv0001@d.umn.edu


Recreation & Tourism:

Topic Highlights:

Contact:

Jesse Schomberg
Coastal Communities & Land Use Specialist

This page last modified on September 15, 2020     © 1996 – 2020 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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