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Colleges testing students’ wastewater for COVID-19

Pooping has given college campuses a new hope during the pandemic.

Several academic institutions are collecting students’ wastewater in an effort to contain coronavirus outbreaks, according to an analysis.

The analysis by NPR says the method involves taking wastewater from sewage pipes and then transferring samples to a laboratory for testing. The results provide early detection of the virus days before a person shows respiratory symptoms and in cases where people are asymptomatic.

“I feel like if we’re really trying to slow the pandemic and help get back to normal, the biggest thing is prevention. And this is how you do that.” Abbie Modafferi, a graduate student collecting samples at Colorado State University, told NPR.

Using wastewater testing has given administrators at the schools such as the University of Arizona and the University of Virginia a heads up on which students have the virus and how to contain those cases from spreading.

Heather Pierce of the Association of American Medical Colleges says this type of testing is expensive but necessary.

“Testing is a part of virtually every plan to reopen safely and stay open,” Pierce told Inside Higher Education. “Some combination of screening and surveillance testing is absolutely essential.”


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