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Testing Underway For 287 USU Students After COVID-19 Detected In Wastewater 

Aug 31, 2020, 8:58 PM | Updated: 9:47 pm

LOGAN, Utah – Testing is underway for nearly 300 quarantined students at Utah State University after COVID-19 was found in the wastewater at four dorm buildings.

About half of the students have been tested.

Once results are in, students will find out when they can end quarantine and step inside a classroom during this first week of classes.

“Card games are a god-send,” said student Abbey Crowther. Her roommate Eliza Bell agreed. “I’ve played so much solitaire,” she said.

They are among the 287 students now quarantined at four USU dormitories.

“We’ve got bunk beds, our nice little desk situation,” Crowther said.

Abbey Crowther and Elizabeth Bell are two of the quarantined students.

A nearby lab is where the wastewater from USU and many other parts of the state are closely examined.

Keith Roper, professor of biological engineering, was not sure the process would find the virus.

“When you’re talking about wastewater, that’s a very different scenario,” he said. It’s very complex, very dynamic. A lot of moving parts, and I was quite skeptical when I started this work; that you could actually get quantitative, meaningful and predictive information from wastewater.”

USU biological engineering professor Keith Roper explains how testing wastewater for COVID-19 works.

Roper added the data they collect can give them an early indication of an outbreak.

“Wastewater monitoring is an early indicator, an early alert that lets us know that the virus is present, even if the individuals themselves may not be aware of it,” he said. “So it provides us a warning and a way to take proactive steps to reduce the transmission and rate of infection.”

Buses are transporting students to the testing site. 

Quarantined students are being bused to the testing site.

While being stuck in your dorm can be a drag, Crowther and Bell were grateful USU was taking a proactive approach. They said the professors have reached out to them and other staff members have been helpful. 

Some of those test results could be back within 24 hours.

USU partnered with the Utah Department of Health and the Bear River Health Department to conduct the tests.

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Testing Underway For 287 USU Students After COVID-19 Detected In Wastewater