What Your Poop Is Saying About COVID

Episode 0112 January 12, 2022 00:34:16
What Your Poop Is Saying About COVID
Moving Kentucky Forward
What Your Poop Is Saying About COVID

Show Notes

Did you know your poop can talk? Well, it can – at least when it comes to detecting COVID. We talk with Dr. Ted Smith, the director of the Wastewater-Based Epidemiology study at the University of Louisville. What is it, how does it work – and most importantly, what are they seeing? Listen in to learn more!

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:33 Hello and welcome to move in Kentucky forward. I'm Bruce Maples, publisher Ford Kentucky. A few weeks ago, I saw a graph from Boston that talked about their incidents of COVID infections, particularly on macaron and the graph on the right just went straight up. It was a horrifying graph to look at, to think about that many infections spiking at that time. And then I looked again and realized that it came from their wastewater tracking system. I knew that there was something like that going on in Louisville. So I got in touch with Dr. Ted Smith. Who's in charge of that effort. It appears that our waste, our poop can talk to us and can tell us what's going on with infection in our community. So I wanted to ask Dr. Smith to come on board and share with us how that works and what he is seeing in Louisville. So here is Dr. Ted Smith. So I'm talking today with Dr. Ted Smith. He is the associate professor of environmental medicine at the university of Louisville. And as he says for extra credit, he is also the director of the center for healthy air, water and soil also at the university of Louisville, Dr. Smith, welcome to moving Kentucky forward. Speaker 2 00:02:04 It's great to be here. Thank you. Speaker 1 00:02:06 So I wanted to talk with you about something that some people probably consider unpleasant, but is actually a very important topic. And that is the sampling work that you have been leading around sampling sewage for coronavirus, uh, without having to go into a huge amount of detail. Can you tell us how that works? Speaker 2 00:02:38 Yeah, sure. So early in the pandemic, um, a team of researchers in Europe had discovered that when the virus was, uh, replicating in your body, uh, it also was not only in the lungs, which people were very familiar with, but it was replicating in the GI tract. And so it turned out that, you know, you were also shedding virus through your feces, which meant that we could, um, find, uh, find other ways to figure out if people are infected it live in a certain place. And those ways would be to actually go look at the sewage and count up copies of the virus that was shed through that pathway. And that's what we've been doing, uh, since July of 20, 20, Speaker 1 00:03:26 Only in the feces or also in the urine. Speaker 2 00:03:29 Um, very, very, very low levels sporadically in the urine. So it's not urine is not a good target for this kind of virus. Speaker 1 00:03:39 Okay. So I haven't seen your sampling team outside my house, so I'm assuming you're not sampling individual houses. So at what level of granularity are you doing the sampling? Speaker 2 00:03:55 That's a great question. Um, you know, this whole field, uh, which is called wastewater based epidemiology is, um, while it's not brand new with the, with the COVID pandemic, it is, um, it has picked up a lot of, uh, new, uh, investigators, a lot of new teams working on it, and you're not surprised and they have been working in different levels of monitoring. And so you're right, we're not in your bathroom, uh, you know, hooked up to your toilet. Um, and we're not at your house going into the street, but there are many teams around the world who have been focused on, uh, congregate living facilities, um, senior living facilities. Uh, we have a project with the CDC and UK looking at senior living facilities, um, correctional facilities. So, uh, I have a project with the state looking at our state prisons, um, you know, dormitories, a lot of the early work cause a lot of academics have the equipment, you know, they all went out to the dormitory that was, you know, kind of outside their office. Speaker 2 00:04:56 Um, you know, so that's the smallest level of sampling that you'll see. And that's typically representative of, you know, maybe a hundred to a couple of hundred people, uh, and then you can start stepping up and, you know, the next step up is a think of it as like a multi neighborhood, you know, maybe, uh, uh, catchment area that holds, you know, uh, addresses a population of 15, 20, 30,000 residents. And so pulling from there, you know, it gives you a snapshot of that group of people, right? And then you can go all the way up to a wastewater treatment plant, which will handle hundreds of thousands of households in, in many cities, millions of households. And so, you know, that's the rough math is you're, you're probably either working in a, in a congregate living setting in a kind of a section of a community or kind of a whole community or a very large population. Speaker 1 00:05:51 Okay. Uh, let's get a little more technical. Uh, so I'm imagining some sort of, as you said, a catchment, some sort of sewage pipe, uh, most of us have not looked at sewage and have no idea what it looks like or, or runs like, but so you take the top off, uh, you know, and what do you do? Do you put a, just a, a bottle down in there and catch some and take it back to the lab or do you actually test it there? Speaker 2 00:06:24 Um, so there's no testing in the field, uh, to answer that question, but, uh, methods, um, methods vary. The, the most common method is, uh, something called a composite sampling where you take a device that is designed. You put a tube, you open them at home, you put a tube down that manhole. And, uh, every 15 minutes it grabs a hundred milliliters of what's flowing through that pipe. Okay. And it does that for 24 hours. So what it deposits in a, in a sample container is a 24 hour composite sample of, uh, what went through that pipe and what goes to that pipe as, um, as you said, most people don't know. So for the most part, our sanitary sewer system was designed to carry human waste. Right. But it was also designed to carry other kinds of discharges, right? So there's industrial discharges, there's other, you know, other kinds of commercial facilities that use the sanitary sewer system. Speaker 2 00:07:29 And then because, uh, our city is so old, you know, inside the Waterson expressway, uh, we have combined sewers. So, you know, the stormwater mixes with, uh, human waste and, you know, the wastewater treatment plant has to, you know, you try to keep up with keeping, keeping it all cleaned up and it, which is where a big problem. So bottom line is we're, we're taking a composite sample of 24 hours. There are people that do what they're called, grab samples, you'd dip a bucket in, and you take the, you might guess that that's a really unreliable sample because it's just what came by that moment. And then there are those, um, Stanford university really leads this charge, um, you know, focused on when it gets to the wastewater treatment plant. The first thing that happens is the solids, which we all recognize as feces the solids settle out in a tank. And what they do is they go take those solids. They take a scoop of that, and then they go analyze that. And, you know, so there's different methods and, you know, they have different kinds of benefits. Speaker 1 00:08:30 And so then you've got this sample, you take it back to a lab, I assume, at the university. And you, how do you test for the presence of coronavirus? Speaker 2 00:08:44 Sure. And I'll just modify it. We did take it back to our lab early on, right. What would be, cause we have the equipment and the know-how. We have been working here in Louisville with a company called Euro, um, your orphans genomics. They moved here because of ups. They do a lot of, um, pathogen testing for the USDA. They're the largest lab for the USDA. And, um, and we have been working closely to try to help them develop this as an ongoing capability. Cause our researchers want to do research. They don't want to process wastewater every week. Right. And get behind in their own careers. Right. So we, we are working to sort of translate this and we're also working with the state health lab to give, to help them establish that capability at the state's health lab. So, but you're right. So it comes up to our lab. Speaker 2 00:09:33 We, um, we, uh, we use, um, exactly the same technologies that, uh, the nasal pharyngeal swabs that you're familiar with, uh, use, which is, um, which is PCR based, um, amplification. So essentially we take the sample that came out of the sewer, we filter it. So we get all the, essentially the big debris out, right. There's pieces of toilet paper, there's, you know, there's stuff in the, in the sewage, right. That isn't just the feces. And we, we filter that and then we, um, we concentrate it, we, we centrifuge it. We get to a little pallet essentially of the solids that are in that, what otherwise doesn't look like kind of Milky water. Uh, we get a solid pellet and then we use the PCR technology to essentially amplify the RNA that's in that pallet. And then we essentially run it against primers and probes that determine which genes are present. Speaker 2 00:10:27 And those primers and probes are the same ones that we use for clinical samples. So we're doing the same thing that we would do if it was a clinical swab we're doing with a wastewater sample and we are able to then count up the number of, um, genes copies of these genes that are only associated with SARS cov two virus. And so then we can quantify how many of those, how many copies of the gene, or are in that sample for a liter of sample. And that's what we do. And then we report that as you can think of it as abundance, like how much virus was present in that sample. Speaker 1 00:11:04 Okay. One more sort of introductory question. Uh, you're doing this in Louisville. Is any of this being done anywhere else in the state? Speaker 2 00:11:13 Uh, there's a team at the university of Kentucky. That's working, they got a large NIH grant to do work in Appalachia. And so there's a, there's an interesting collection of, uh, different kinds of sampling, uh, that, that needs to be done in communities that don't have big centralized sewage systems. So they're, they're leading the charge on think of it as rural challenges for sampling. Uh, and then the state has a, um, a pretty significant contract to look at, um, wastewater in manufacturing and agricultural settings. And so our three efforts in the state, you know, we're very focused on urban and corrections, a little bit with nursing homes, UK nursing homes and rural, and then the state lab itself is focused on some of these occupational settings. So there are many things going on here in the Commonwealth. Speaker 1 00:12:04 Okay. Now we've sort of set the table. Uh, now let's get to the news. I reached out to you because I saw a graph from a similar effort in Boston and the graph just scared the pee out of me, not to be too weird with that. Speaker 2 00:12:22 And I said, I'm not going to find anything at peace, so you can have that paradigm. Speaker 1 00:12:26 I haven't scared. That's all right. So this, the graph just was to me horrified. So what are you finding over the last say two months in Louisville? Speaker 2 00:12:38 Let me add one more piece to the story we told them, setting the table. So, uh, I told you the story of us counting copies of the SARS virus in February of 2021, when we knew that you tations were going to be perhaps the new currency, right. The new thing that everybody was going to really, cause we're really concerned about vaccine escape, right? Like if we get a variant that the vaccine doesn't protect against it, so it's a pretty significant problem for us society, right? So it's rightful that we think now about like, okay, the, the, you know, we know that there's a lot of infection, it comes in waves and, you know, w w we've got a testing infrastructure, the new problem. And last year around this time was how will we keep track of these variants? And we were one of the first communities in the world to figure out how to sequence the viral copies that we found. Speaker 2 00:13:37 And the one piece that we left out of the last narrative was we're not, um, we're shedding into the feces into that sewer system, fragments of the genome. So, uh, people will ask me, you know, well, uh, can I get infected, you know, from feces, right? I mean, it's, it's a very, it's an important question to know the answer to, and the answer is no, you can't get infected from what you find in the sewage. So don't worry about, there's lots of reasons to worry about being around sewage, SARS, Kobe, to COVID isn't one of them. Um, so we are, we are getting pieces and I describe it as we get, um, we actually get jigsaw puzzle pieces, and these are, these are very big jigsaw puzzles, and there are many, many different kinds of many different pictures in the jigsaw puzzles, right. And I have to figure out from the pieces, which puzzle they go to, and that's how we do the genomic sequencing of the wastewater. Speaker 2 00:14:33 We go looking for all these mutations, and then we statistically determine what they're most likely associated with. If I had the full sample that I would have from your nose, I would have a whole long read. I would have the whole genome of the virus. I don't get that luxury in the wastewater. So I'm piecing it together. We came up with a method for doing that in very short order. Like we can turn around genomic sequencing in two days, uh, at our lab at U of L. And, you know, when we started doing that work, you know, it really garnered a lot of attention because, um, that, that has become the important question. So, so when you looked at the Boston globe story of, you know, kind of this meteoric growth, now, we all intuitively knew that that was the Omicron surge, but the only way you would know it was the Omicron surge is if you were looking for the genes that are associated with Omicron. Speaker 2 00:15:29 And so we have been doing that work since February every week. And, uh, so part a to the answer to your question is, yeah, we, we saw, um, we saw a really large growth in the amount of virus in our community. And we also can tell you it's virtually all Omicron at this point in time, we found Omicron in the wastewater before a clinical sample was discovered in Jefferson county. So we were at of the discovery of it by the usual method, you would figure out where the variants were wastewater has that kind of value. So we called the governor's office in the governor's press briefing. He said, we have it up in Northern Kentucky. We have it in Fayette county. And I hear that it's in the wastewater in Louisville. That's exactly what he said. And so, um, you know, th this is, uh, for us, it's, it's all part of the work, so we're counting it up and we're trying to figure out what's behind it, because if there was some new thing that was becoming abundant, we'll probably see it in the wastewater first here. Speaker 2 00:16:32 And so, um, you know, we think that it's a really good Sentinel approach for doing genomic. Um, you know, they call it genomic surveillance, but, you know, trying to keep on top of what's going on, by the way, we see thousands of variants, right? So the world has been trained to think, oh, we had Delta. And before that, we had, you know, beta alpha. Now we're having to, we're going to have pine next. I mean, as if it's as simple as there's a couple of different flavors of this, there are thousands and thousands of flavors of the wild type of this thing mutating all the time, but only certain of them, as we figured out, catch enough, you know, to become something we need to keep track of. So, sorry for that really long answer. But, um, yeah, we are seeing dramatic growth. Um, you know, it's, uh, it hasn't slowed down. These are the highest levels we've seen in the wastewater since we started this work. Wow. And it all makes sense. Right? We have, you know, all the other testing data that we have as a community, we see, you know, positivity rate and our community is in the sort of 30%. I mean, it's much higher than it's ever been. So we know there's a whole lot of people that are infected. And at this point, the wastewater is in some levels redundant with what we know from all of these other sources. Speaker 1 00:17:44 Well, okay. Let me, let me ask you a question. I don't want you to necessarily identify the area or the neighborhood, but do you see differences across the city? Are there some parts of the city that are worse or better than Speaker 2 00:18:00 Absolutely. When we started this work? Um, we're one of a couple of cities, uh, in the U S that decided to brave below wastewater treatment plants. One thing you should know about wastewater treatment plants is, um, it's a lot easier to get a sample from a wastewater treatment plant. You can imagine if you will a tap handle, like at a bar, you just walk up and you pull the tap and you load the sample jar up. And you know, now you've got a sample it's, it's kind of Adam and they're constantly for regulatory reasons. They're constantly doing composite sampling. And, and so it's a, it's as simple as pulling a tap handle at a wastewater treatment plant, opening up a manhole, you know, that requires a certain kind of bravery. And, you know, MSD has been a partner the whole time. And of course they know their infrastructure better than anybody. Speaker 2 00:18:48 And, you know, we worked with them to figure out which locations in the community would help us understand the, the question you raised, which is, are there places that are kind of more challenged than others? And the answer is yes. And we've been doing this. I mean, it's really the whole reason we set out to do this inside the, the geography of Jefferson county. So we have 12 catchment areas that are below the wastewater treatment level. And that means, you know, whole collections of neighborhoods. So I, you know, it's not that we have a one neighborhood, like we don't have the Highlands and we don't have, you know, just, you know, Chickasaw or whatever. We, you know, we have, you know, call it sort of like regions and they vary in size. And I will tell you, the answer is, uh, it tracks at this point, it tracks perfectly with vaccination coverage. Speaker 2 00:19:41 So the areas of highest infection have the lowest vaccination and those areas, you can go to the city's website and you can see what vaccination covers looks like in Louisville. And it is you Southwest west, south central Louisville have the lowest vaccination coverage. We regularly have the highest, um, concentrations of virus all the time regularly. Like I don't have to look at this week's report, which I'll I'll get tomorrow. Um, I don't have to look at it to know where the top three places are. I mean, I already know where they are and I'll look report, and it will say that's where they are. And it's, um, it's hard, you know, to figure out what you do with that information. So it's, it can be a curiosity, like, are there differences, you know, is, uh, is the sort of Northeast part of Jefferson county, less infected? Speaker 2 00:20:27 The answer is yes. You know, but, but what would you do with that information? And that turns out to be a much harder problem, because as you know, we've been, the drum has been beating on the importance of vaccination and that drum beat has been heard in some places more than others. And, um, so that's actually still the answer, right? So I can tell you that there's, there's good reason. This is one of the reasons you should get vaccinated is, you know, you'll help keep the burden of this disease lower in your community. And I have empirical evidence that that's true. Speaker 1 00:20:58 So let me ask one other question. You talked about breaking up about the fact that you get puzzle pieces and that you saw the Omer con variant. I'm assuming what you get is you get like a whole bunch of puzzle pieces, but some of them are, well, we got one or two of these, but this one, we got 200. So we need to look at that. So I'm wondering, and you said you were one of the first detection systems to see Omicron and say, okay, here's this thing coming Speaker 2 00:21:29 In Louisville. I mean, in Kentucky, we want to be clear in Kentucky. We, we identified it first in wastewater in Louisville. So we weren't the first, one of the first in the world defined, you know, Omicron and wastewater and the, you know, lots of other researchers are on this problem. So, uh, it's a, it's a big group activity, Speaker 1 00:21:49 But is it possible, or do you have fail safe put in that while you are counting up these Alma Crohn's over here that there's, you know, some other variant that's going on that you're not looking for. How do you see that? If it happens? Speaker 2 00:22:05 Yeah. Yeah. So it's a great question. So the reason that we launched this genomic sequencing work wasn't to find any one variant, it was the sequence, everything. So we have terabytes of data every week of all of the gene, uh, uh, dropouts, uh, additions, deletions, all across the entire genome. We keep track of all of them and we bring them together when there's published, you know, there's a big genomics database called . We go to just say it. And we look at the database of all the known and reported clinical sequences, and you start to stitch together the ones that look like existing ones that have been identified. And then we keep a full inventory of all of the other mutations, right? So we have thousands and thousands and thousands in our library, going back to February of 20, one of all the different versions of SARS that we've seen in our community. Speaker 2 00:23:11 And when the CDC decides that one of those other ones, the thousands that we've identified is a clinically becoming clinically relevant. You know, they call it a variant of interest at that point in time. And, um, and if that continues to be seen clinically people they're coming in with symptoms and on problems, uh, and it's, uh, there are other, you know, whatever challenges they'll say, oh gosh, there's enough mutations here. The, whatever to the spike protein that, you know, we, we really need to put this on a list because some of our therapies might not be effective against us. Then they call it a variant of concern, which Omicron is a variant of concern because of the mutations that has, that is not to say that there aren't a lot of other scary looking mutations out there. And there sure are it's the good news is none of them have achieved critical mass, right? Speaker 2 00:24:01 It may be just in one person, right. And, uh, you know, that mutation doesn't successfully get transmitted to another person. And so that happens all the time. And that's why you'd want to do this. We have a giant library, I would say the value of our work isn't that we found Omicron the value of our work is that we found all the other variants that we're going to see. I believe we found them all and whether any of them become viable and important, we'll be able to, we'll be able to look back in time and say, when did I first see that in Louisville? We've done this before. I mean, before, um, Delta was declared a variant of concern we had in our community, but of course it wasn't a thing to know about. And then when suddenly the CDC said, oh, there's this, there's this strain because of our technology, we are able to say, well, gosh, I saw that in, uh, in Newburgh, uh, in March, you know, and then we started again in June, down in south central. I mean, that's the beauty of this approach is that we're, we're not just chasing, it's not like a software viruses where you're only as good as the last version of the code is figured out. It's, it's looking at the whole spectrum. And, um, it's a very, very powerful thing. Speaker 1 00:25:14 So I have two other questions. I mean, I could really cause I love science. I could go on about this for a long time, but let me ask you two questions. Uh, one, is there any testing of this, of animal feces to see if there's a possibility that COVID could be cross species transmitted? Speaker 2 00:25:37 Uh, it's really a good question. So the, the work in other species, um, has been limited to, you know, kind of the upper respiratory sampling. Um, we've had a brief exchange with the state's veterinarian about white tail deer because, um, it's now been established that white tail deer, uh, can be a reservoir and they are a reservoir for SARS. Um, but we haven't taken it to that next step of, you know, how does this method of surveillance have any use in that particular situation? Right. And, and I, I don't know, remember what we have the luxury of we're living at the end of sanitary sewer pipes, right. And, and the deer and the animals and the zoo and all that. Like, it's a different story, you know, for these other organisms. Um, and so, so it's, I'm excited to see what can be done. Um, clearly we need to understand these other animal reservoirs and the role of the larger ecology, but, um, you know, we just haven't had the luxury, you know, all the firefighting that we've been doing in this pandemic to work on those next level questions Speaker 1 00:26:49 I was specifically thinking about, uh, and I can't think of the term, I want, uh, corporate farming or corporate production farming. I had a friend who was a hog farmer, and we talked about the fact that keeping hogs and pens all in one building with all the sewage and everything led to more disease. So I was thinking, okay, there's a place where you could get a sample. Speaker 2 00:27:16 Yeah. I actually think that's one of the reasons the, uh, the state has an FDA grant to look at food production facilities. Um, you know, I, you know, I don't know that they went out and said that. I mean, I think there there's an occupational, uh, lens that you can apply, right. Because you have those that's a little bit like the original wet market scenario and Wu Han, it was, you know, this thing jumped right. Theoretically from, you know, this species, right. This other species to humans and the places where that kind of jumping would happen would be places where there was this mill you and constant teaming. Right. And so I, you know, you're, you're certainly wise for putting that on the table, but, you know, I think we don't, we don't, we currently lack, I think the will to, you know, bring that kind of science into those settings. And the USDA, you know, is, is I think largely the regulator there. And, you know, I don't think they've been part of the public health kind of, um, picture in the way that say the CDC or others have been. Speaker 1 00:28:23 Okay. I think it would be interesting for somebody to go after that, but I understand what you're saying when it's a good, Speaker 2 00:28:30 Right. We should, we should take the shotgun method of sequencing and take a look at everything that you see in a, in pig effluent. Right. And, you know, it would be interesting to see right. What you, what you would find. Speaker 1 00:28:42 So my last question is, uh, is there anything that you wanted me to ask you that I didn't, or anything you wanted to share or talk about that we haven't covered? Speaker 2 00:28:52 Well, I mean, I think, um, you know, the, the nagging question that some people, uh, bring and it's a very good one is, is this, this ethics issue? So you, you, you opened with, you know, you're not surveilling my toilet, right. I mean, like true. Um, but there are people on the sort of spectrum or the ideological spectrum, you know, who would say, you know, you're spying on me, right. Don't do that. I don't care if there's public health emergency, you know, don't do that. And, um, and I think we, we shouldn't run away from ethics questions. We shouldn't, we should steer into them and we should own them. And so, you know, just so you know, from my perspective, this is, uh, this, this will be a category of health monitoring. It will be, I mean, there's been so much money spent on it. Speaker 2 00:29:39 So many different efforts involved. And, you know, I'm working closely with a couple of federal agencies on what an enduring capability would be. How do we protect ourselves from pathogens in the future? Or how do we understand population health risk differently? And all those things, this, I see this coming. And so, therefore it's not just all the crazy things we did during COVID. I think there's a bigger community conversation to be had with the American public. And it is, let's be transparent about this let's let's set limits, right? So we shouldn't be pulling your DNA. Right. We should agree. We're not looking for human DNA ever. And that should be a rule. I, I have issues with, um, some of my colleagues who were in this field before COVID, who were looking for illicit drug use. And, um, you know, I think the whole ethical conversation on looking for, you know, fentanyl and oxycodone and all these kinds of things, um, I think you can stigmatize neighborhoods, right? Speaker 2 00:30:38 And I think if it's going to stigmatize neighborhoods, it, it creates, um, it mixes up the value proposition. Right. So if I said, well, it's good for law enforcement and it's good for public health. Um, you know, maybe somebody will say, well, gosh, you know, like, uh, we don't need any more stigma in, in many of our neighborhoods. Like, so let's stop doing stuff like this. And then if it doesn't protect us from the next thing, you know, say, cause we weren't responsible about how we use the tool. It's just like nuclear power or whatever. I mean, like we, there's lots of good and bad applications of this capability. And so, um, it could be a whole nother show for, for you. But, um, you know, I welcome it. I mean, I think we should be talking about it. I feel very personally, I feel very good about the boundaries. We set up for what we're doing as, as anonymous as you know, like nobody's privacy is being violated, but I appreciate the sensitivity to the issue. That's important. Speaker 1 00:31:34 That's an excellent point. And another thing that we need to discuss as a community, and maybe even as a civilization, Dr. Ted Smith, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for your insights. Thank you for being able to take a complex process and break it down for us so we can all understand it. And let's close by saying if somebody wanted to go see reports, if they wanted to see a graph, like the Boston graph that I saw, uh, where would they go to do that? Speaker 2 00:32:09 Um, I would Google the Institute and, uh, co immunity project. And I can send you a note. Maybe you can put it in with, uh, with the show, uh, a link that takes you to our dashboard. Speaker 1 00:32:25 Okay. In virome E N V I R O M E. Yep. Speaker 2 00:32:29 What's a cheeky take on. We're not the genome or the where the other guys. Right? Speaker 1 00:32:35 Thank you so much for your time and, uh, take care. Hey, thank you Speaker 0 00:32:40 So much. Speaker 1 00:32:41 You stay well. That was Dr. Ted Smith of the university of Louisville, who, in addition to his regular teaching duties, as a professor, there is in charge of the wastewater monitoring system, looking for Corona virus in Louisville. We really want to thank him for his time and for his work and expertise in leading that effort. It's, um, really groundbreaking. And as he said, it may become something that we do for a lot of reasons across the country. So thanks again to Dr. Smith. I want to make a note about, uh, this podcast. I was trying to keep it at one per week, but I realized that there are some news things that are breaking more frequently than that. And so rather than trying to keep to a regular release schedule, I'm basically lining up interviews whenever there is something newsworthy to talk about our next podcast. For example, we have Dr. Josh Douglas, and we will talk about redistricting. So if you subscribe to the podcast or if you are on our website regularly, where we post them as well, you'll be able to catch them when they come along. Thanks again for listening. And we'll see you in the next podcast.

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