The state has another tool in its COVID-19 testing toolbox.

Monday, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Discovery Partners Institute announced a statewide system able to monitor the virus in our wastewater. IDPH began work on this form of surveillance late last year.

A representative says it’s not meant to replace traditional testing, adding infections can be detected in wastewater three to five days ahead of someone developing symptoms.

While the program won’t trace a positive sample back to an individual, it can provide early warnings of a potential outbreak in a county.

IDPH set aside more than $5 million to support this system over the next year.