Testing may be one way of detecting traces of the Coronavirus, but a recent incident has sparked an alarm in a possibly new way that the virus is transmitted.
Utah State University discovered strains of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater that came from four dormitories on the campus. A safety alert was raised by school officials on Sunday, and required everyone to undergo mandatory testing and ordered for 287 students who reside in Rich, Jones, Morgan, and Davis in-campus dorms to be quarantined.
Classes have just begun last Monday and there was an inflow of students who moved into the residence halls. The quarantine will be imposed until the release of the test results. The school administration formed a care team that will facilitate the care for the quarantined students, from the delivery of their meals to other forms of assistance.
The sampling of wastewater from the campus facilities started at the beginning of July. This was implemented to have an early warning for an infection threat.
“The benefit of testing the water is that we get a snapshot into what is happening on campus and can quarantine even before a student becomes symptomatic. It is also less invasive,” says university director Amanda DeRito.
The CDC also launched a directive for the surveillance of sewage water to gather more information on the mode of transmission of the virus in local communities. The wastewater from the residences and other buildings can contain traces of the SARS-CoV-2 from infected people’s stools, both symptomatic or not.
Since schools and universities reopened, eyes are all on these places as top transmission hotspots. Outbreaks also happened at the University of South Carolina, with 1,017 confirmed cases, one of the highest counts in universities. There are also 424 active cases in the University of Missouri and 138 at James Madison University.
College and university outbreaks account for more than 20,000 additional cases from more than 36 states across the country.