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Three hundred students were quarantining at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark after high levels of COVID-19 were found in the sewage of one of the dorms, officials said.
Every student at Cypress Hall was quarantined Wednesday night after the test results were released that evening, NJIT Chief Strategy Officer Matthew Golden told NJ Advance Media.
The students can leave campus, but the university will suspend their swipe access to facilities until they test negative, Golden said.
They are all doing virtual learning while under quarantine and were all tested for COVID-19 Thursday morning with the results expected by Monday at the latest, he said.
None of the students have reported any symptoms of the virus.
The school tests 400 students at random for COVID-19 each week, and before the positive sample in the sewage, only three people had tested positive, Golden said.
He added that the waste water testing will be one of the university’s “best tools” for catching the virus early before it spreads.
He said it can be used as an “early warning system” for asymptomatic people as the virus can show up in their urine or feces, which ends up in waste water.
The university has experts in water testing on campus including Professor Lucia Rodriguez-Freire.
She told NJ Spotlight News that she suggested the sewage test for COVID-19 and said that is happening at several other universities in other states as well as the Netherlands, Finland and Spain.
“The good thing about it is, we don’t have to test individuals,” Rodriguez-Freire told the news outlet. “We can test the whole community, and see if something is going on.”
Golden said he believed that NJIT was the only university in New Jersey doing waste water testing.
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