Mike Harris, who oversees wastewater at the New Castle County public works department, got an unexpected request recently from Biobot, a Boston-area start-up backed by MIT: Could it test the county’s sewage flow for traces of coronavirus?

County executive Matt Meyer announced the result Thursday: Biobot estimated that 15,200 Wilmington-area residents have signs of COVID-19, out of 500,000 sewer system users -- an infection rate of 3%, and 10 times the cases that health officials have so far identified “north of the Canal,” the urbanized tip that houses over half the state’s residents.

Biobot has tested dozens of U.S. sewer systems and found similar results at at least a few, local news reports show. “The public health field already knows that the number of reported cases is much lower" than the total infected; the county samples help confirm this, said Biobot chief data scientist Claire Duvallet, adding that COVID-19 researchers in the Netherlands, Israel and Australia are also studying sewage.

If confirmed, it’s another warning that lots of apparently healthy people have the bug and may be contagious.

Gov. John Carney, who is puzzling over when to reopen businesses, wasn’t drawing early conclusions: . “We’re trying to follow the science from the CDC. This isn’t any science I’ve heard of.”

UPDATE: Biobot’s Duvallet refers us to her group’s paper at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720322816

Silicon Valley finds Fishtown

Fishtown Analytics, the 25-person firm led by Tristan Handy that has developed the popular open-source data design tool dbt, said last week it has raised $12.9 million from Silicon Valley venture capital investor Andreessen Horowitz, an early backer of Facebook.

Fishtown plans to double staff in Philadelphia, a talent-rich yet affordable place to do business, Handy told TechCrunch.

The “Bad Four” won:

Berwyn lawyer Bill Uchimoto, part of an adviser team that launched an unprecedented board election to oust incumbent leaders of Japan-based homebuilder Sekisui House, reports that the effort has failed: Incumbent chairman Toshinori Abe’s slate held off a challenge by former chair Isame Wada and his Japanese and American allies at Thursday’s annual meeting.

The insurgents blamed Abe and his allies for the company’s failure to fully disclose how leaders allowed a $50 million loss in the fraudulent sale of a Tokyo property or punish them.

The rival slate recruited support fromBlackRock and Vanguard, among others.

Uchimoto had no comment. At week’s end, Sekisui had not released vote totals or a statement.

Norway investor on Philly hot seat

Yngve Slyngstad, who headed Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign-wealth public investment fund, " has apologized to his staff for accepting a free flight" and a trip from Nicolai Tangen, founder of $16 billion hedge fund AKO Capital LLP, Bloomberg’s Mikael Holter reported.

To which exotic locale did the hedge-fund manager whisk the world’s biggest sovereign-wealth fund manager so improperly?

Philadelphia, Bloomberg reports. “I really screwed up,” Slyngstad wrote to his staff. .”

Norwegian central bankers have launched an investigation into just what the pair, and members of Slyngstad’s staff, were doing here. If anyone can shed some light, I’m happy to hear from you.

Pharma communications deal

Susan Stipa isn’t your typical communications consultant: She used to be an engineer at Foster Wheeler, which makes steam generators, the heaviest of heavy equipment.

But she bought the Philadelphia agency McDay eight years ago, and built a staff of 17 with projects like CRB Architecture’s expansion into biotech design.

And this week it became part of CGLife, a larger consultantcy based in Chicago, with offices in Denver and San Diego -- and now Center City, with Stipa in charge here. Terms were not disclosed.