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NJ college dorm quarantined after COVID-19 found in sewage

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Three hundred students were quarantined at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark after high levels of COVID-19 were found in the sewage of one of the dormitories.

Every student at Cypress Hall was quarantined Wednesday night after test results were released that evening, NJIT chief strategy officer Matthew Golden told NJ Advance Media.

Students can leave campus, but the university will suspend their access to facilities until they test negative, Golden said.

They all learn virtually in quarantine and were all tested for COVID-1

9 on Thursday morning. The results are expected no later than Monday, he said.

None of the students reported symptoms of the virus.

The school randomly tests 400 students for COVID-19 each week, and only three people had tested positive before the positive sample in the wastewater, Golden said.

He added that the wastewater tests will be one of the university’s “best tools” for detecting the virus early on before it spreads.

He said it can be used as an “early warning system” for asymptomatic people as the virus can appear in their urine or feces that end up in sewage.

The university has water testing experts on campus, including Professor Lucia Rodriguez-Freire.

She told NJ Spotlight News that she proposed the sewage test for COVID-19 and that it is doing so at several other universities in other states as well as in the Netherlands, Finland and Spain.

“The good thing is that we don’t have to test individuals,” Rodriguez-Freire told the news agency. “We can test the entire community and see if something is going on.”

Golden said he believes NJIT is the only university in New Jersey that does wastewater testing.

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Chris Sheldon can be reached at [email protected].

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