Wastewater testing helped University of Idaho identify coronavirus cases in dorms

Sep 16, 2020

MOSCOW, Idaho — Wastewater testing helped officials at the University of Idaho identify a handful of coronavirus cases in two dormitories, according to a memo released on Monday. 

Researchers in the College of Engineering are conducting wastewater sampling of eight locations on campus for early detection of COVID-19. The testing is one tool to help monitor on-campus residence halls and apartments, as well as Greek Row.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its website  that sewage testing can provide information about trends to complement other data informing public-health decision making. However, it's not possible to "reliably and accurate" predict the number of infected individuals in a community based on sewage testing. 

In the memo, UI President Scott Green said wastewater sampling prompted follow-up testing of students in two residence halls that identified six new positive coronavirus cases. 

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