BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An early warning system to detect COVID-19 in wastewater samples in some Baltimore communities is working. 

Test samples from Latrobe Homes detected elevated COVID-19 levels in the water over the past week.

The Baltimore City Health Department is now recommending everyone living at Latrobe Homes get tested for the virus over a three-day period.

“Today, I got a COVID test done,” one resident told WJZ.


The findings from the testing program mean one or more residents, or visitors, who recently used restrooms at the property may have contracted COVID-19.

As part of an initiative presented by the State of Maryland, inspectors have been testing for COVID-19 in the wastewater at Housing Authority of Baltimore City communities since late-November.

Officials said the reading at Latrobe Homes is the first time an elevated COVID-19 level has been detected in the wastewater at a site.

“I think that anytime you have a concentration of people in a condensed space, then there is more of a likelihood of spread,” Tracey Keyser, of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, said.

With nearly 670 units that make up the property, officials are hoping to test around 1,000 people by Thursday.

“Resources of the folks that live in our communities are not as great as others. So they don’t have the resources to get to where they need to get tested,” Keyser said. “The best way for us to protect our residents and give them our resources is to bring it to them.”

Testing will continue at the daycare center at Latrobe Homes Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 3 p.m.

“I came over here just to let everyone know they need to come to get tested because it’s serious. It’s not a game,” a resident said. “This is very convenient. They can leave their house and come right here and get tested.”

In the meantime, residents are urged to continue following COVID-19 prevention protocols, such as wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.