LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville researchers received $8.6 million from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for COVID-19 wastewater research. 

Researchers are already testing wastewater to see if coronavirus infection exists in different neighborhoods around Jefferson County. The new funding will help researchers estimate how many people within those neighborhoods have COVID-19. 

As part of the project, MSD and "other community partners" will collect wastewater samples over the next six months to send to UofL. Researchers will then send their results to the CDC's National Wastewater Surveillance System "which will help inform efforts across the U.S," according to a news release.  

Researchers hope to recruit participants by sending letters to households in Jefferson County. They hope to recruit "a few thousand people every month" to compare their COVID-19 infection and antibody results with wastewater samples from the same area. 

"If virus levels are high in the wastewater, it may be a signal of widespread infection in the community," Betty Coffman, a spokeswoman for UofL, said in a news release. 

“This could revolutionize the way we track and contain pandemics, and not just COVID-19,” said Aruni Bhatnagar, a UofL professor of medicine. “It gives us an invaluable tool that could offer a clearer view of where and how the virus spreads.”

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