RIT tests wastewater to detect coronavirus

Raven Brown
Updated: September 13, 2020 06:12 PM
Created: September 13, 2020 06:03 PM

HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WHEC) — As colleges continue to be the epicenter of coronavirus cases. Many schools like SUNY Oneonta and others have been seeing an uptick. 

RIT, however, is doing everything it can to try and prevent such outbreaks from happening there.

“We are constantly vigilant and we are constantly aware that what [is] happening at those other schools is really in the control of the students and the faculty and staff of those communities, so we're really trying to remind people to be vigilant,” RIT Senior Advisor to the President for Strategic Planning and Sustainability Enid Cardinal says. 

Among the ways they are fighting coronavirus? Testing the wastewater from student dorms and apartments. 

“When you have an infection, you shed that through your system and so with COVID, you shed RNA fragments of Covid in your excretions,” Cardinal says.  

Those fragments allow them to find positive cases of COVID from the wastewater. 

Cardinal says so far one positive case was found. The student in question is now in isolation off-campus and their roommate is in quarantine. 

“We send the samples to Syracuse, so it's not a far trip for the wastewater sampling and the results come back within 24 to 48 hours,” Cardinal says. 

Cardinal says when you shed virus in wastewater it actually can show up about six days before you show symptoms. She said if someone is asymptomatic, this is a way to find cases before they have a chance to infect other people. 

“This is another precaution we are taking as we know that sometimes the spread can still happen,” Cardinal says “People are sharing bathrooms, people are eating together, so this is an extra precaution we're taking.” 

School officials say 5 members of the RIT community have tested positive since the semester began. They also say they have multiple other ways in place to try to contain the spread of COVID-19. 

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