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University of Iowa to start testing wastewater for COVID-19

(file photo)
(file photo)(KKCO)
Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 9:36 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) -The University of Iowa has announced they will begin testing wastewater to help monitor the presence of COVID-19 on campus.

Although the pilot program is still in the planning phase, the new testing program will first focus on residence halls and is intended to serve as a potential early warning for detecting COVID-19 clusters among the student population.

According to officials, existing research indicates people who have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 shed virus particles through their feces.

UI officials say wastewater testing can help detect infections days before people become symptomatic or infections in those who are asymptomatic.

Once the pilot begins, State Hygienic Lab staff, with assistance from Facilities Management and Engie North America, will conduct the wastewater sampling and testing to monitor for an elevated presence of COVID-19.

If test results indicate an increased presence of virus in a campus residence hall, a sample of students from the impacted building will be offered the opportunity to be tested for COVID-19.

Follow-up testing will be voluntary, and students who participate will be offered both a nasal antigen test and a serology antibody test to determine if they have had a past COVID-19 infection. All students who test positive will follow existing protocols for self-isolation and quarantine.

The pilot is a partnership between UI Facilities Management and Engie North America, Student Health, University Housing and Dining, the College of Public Health, and the State Hygienic Lab.

Additional information will be shared with campus once the wastewater testing begins and as the pilot evolves.

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