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Students quarantined at Utah State University after COVID-19 found in dorm wastewater

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Posted at 2:18 PM, Aug 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-30 23:48:01-04

LOGAN, Utah -- Utah State University health officials say they're quarantining and testing students after COVID-19 was detected in the wastewater at some of the school's dorms.

Officials say that sewage samples collected from four residence halls on USU's campus had elevated amounts of the coronavirus. The residence halls where COVID-19 was found were Rich, Jones, Morgan and Davis, an email send to the USU community said.

No other testing samples collected on the school's campus came back positive for COVID-19, the email said.

Earlier this week Fox 13 reported BYU and the University of Utah have the second and third most reported Covid-19 cases on college campuses in the American West.

School officials issued an alert with nearby health departments to quarantine and test the 287 affected students that live in the residence halls. The email stated USU staff and health officials will be going door to door in the affected residence halls to ensure students know what precautions to take and how to be tested.

Officials warned students may not get their test results for three to four days.

"These students must stay in their room or suite, not attend class or interact with those outside their household unless absolutely necessary (such as for COVID-19 testing)," the email said.

Members of the faculty were urged to work with affected students. Specific guidance on accommodations would come later in the week, the school said.

This announcement comes as universities across the country grapple with how to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19 as students return to campus.

The full email alert can be read below:

Email Alert

SAFETY ALERT: Wastewater from Four Residence Halls Detect Elevated SARS-COV-2

Utah State University's wastewater monitoring for COVID-19 has detected elevated levels of the COVID-19 virus in wastewater samples from the following residence halls on the Logan campus: Rich, Jones, Morgan, and Davis. No other testing samples on campus taken this week show elevated levels of the virus. There are no reported positive tests for COVID-19 in these residence halls right now.

Wastewater testing provides an early alert warning for the university to address potential cases and prevent the spread of the virus further. In response to this early detection system, USU is implementing the following response for the four residence halls affected.

RESIDENTS BEING TESTED FOR COVID-19

USU is working with the Utah Department of Health and the Bear River Health Department to organize testing for all 287 students who live in these residence halls to be done today and tomorrow. More details will be provided directly to the students in these residence halls. USU staff will be knocking on doors to make sure the residents know what to do and when they will be tested. All residents of Rich, Jones, Morgan, and Davis Halls must fill out the COVID-19 Questionnaire to ensure they receive academic accommodations, food deliveries, and other resources. Find the COVID-19 Questionnaire at: https://tinyurl.com/y2ehnzas [tinyurl.com].

RESIDENTS MUST QUARANTINE

As a precaution, residents in Rich, Jones, Morgan, and Davis residence halls must quarantine immediately from now until test results are returned, which may take up to 3-4 days. These students must stay in their room or suite, not attend class or interact with those outside their household unless absolutely necessary (such as for COVID-19 testing). USU has activated its COVID CARE Team to arrange for resources to affected students, including dinner deliveries for tonight (August 30). Students and parents with questions about housing should email https://www.usu.edu/housing/contact-us/ [usu.edu].

CLASSES AND ACCOMMODATIONS

Faculty will work with those students who are affected by this quarantine as fall semester begins. The Provost's office will provide further guidance for faculty members in making accommodations for students. If faculty have any questions, they should reach out to the Provost's office provost@usu.edu.

PREVENTION FOR ALL CAMPUS

This situation highlights how essential it is that everyone practice the four principles of prevention: wear a mask, even outside; practice social distancing; stay home when you are sick; and keep your hands and space clean. Learn more at: https://www.usu.edu/covid-19/staying-healthy/prevention [usu.edu].

Anyone in the campus community who has one of the following symptoms should self-isolate and seek testing immediately: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches and chills, or decreased sense of smell or taste. Learn more at: https://www.usu.edu/covid-19/if-you-are-sick/ [usu.edu].

Learn more about USU's efforts to prevent COVID-19 at https://www.usu.edu/covid-19 [usu.edu].\

Info: https://usu.apparmor.com/Notifications/CAP/?id=37152&t=28592445 [usu.apparmor.com]

This is a breaking news story. Additional information will be provided as it is made available.