Utah State University students were sent into quarantine over the weekend after health officials found COVID-19 in sewage, according to the university.
Health officials identified the virus in sewage from four dorms, Fox13 Salt Lake City reported Monday. Local health departments were informed to quarantine and test 287 students living in the dorms, according to another Fox13 Salt Lake City report.
“These students must stay in their room or suite, not attend class or interact with those outside their household unless absolutely necessary (such as for COVID-19 testing),” an email to the USU community said, according to Fox13 Salt Lake City. (RELATED: Penn State Fraternities Suspended For Breaking COVID Rules)
“We are now awaiting the results of tests for all 287 students,” Tim Vitale, the university’s associate vice president of communications, told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.
“Wastewater monitoring” provides “an early warning sign,” Vitale told the DCNF while explaining about how “wastewater testing” detects the coronavirus and how it applied to the incident.
“So what happened in the case, in our case, is that, we had this early warning sign. We were able to shut down the system,” Vitale told the DCNF.
“We were able to shut down the four dorms, isolate those students and then test them all,” he said, adding that the university is assisting quarantined students. Classes started Monday, according to the school academic calendar.
“Our school already is approximately 85 % online, and the additional face-to-face classes began Monday and continue,” Vitale told the DCNF.
— Heidi Hatch (@tvheidihatch) September 1, 2020
The University of Arizona tested wastewater after around 5,000 students moved back to campus, according to The Washington Post. After finding the virus, 311 students were tested, yielding two asymptomatic cases and the students were immediately quarantined.
Five U.S. universities, including Utah State University, publicly say they have a “wastewater testing program,” according to a statement. The school is also looking to grow the program and is looking for sampling locations at their other campuses.
The Utah System of Higher Education did not immediately respond to the DCNF.
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