Colorado College starts wastewater testing; helps find virus before people are symptomatic

Colorado College
Colorado College(KKTV)
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 8:04 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - One local college is starting testing that will help find COVID-19 cases before people become symptomatic.

Colorado College officials told 11 News they started wastewater testing, which tests for the virus in sewage systems. CC recently bought three kits and sent its first round of samples to be tested last week.

The sampling can be done in areas as specific as a certain wing or level of a single dorm. If they find the virus in that wastewater, they can pinpoint exactly who lives there and who might be positive. CC officials say people shed the virus in waste before becoming a symptomatic spreader.

“Let’s say you and I were a part of a dorm, and we were on the third floor, east wing, and there were 20 of us. And we tested from that pipe that’s going into the overall sewage outtake. If there was a positive case, then what would happen is all of us on that floor would then be asked, 'Hey, come into test because somewhere here there’s a positive," said Brian Young of Colorado College.

Whoever tested positive or was exposed would quarantine, rather than the entire group of people or dorm. CC says wastewater testing is an early warning system for finding COVID-19 cases.

“It’s a great tool in our arsenal to help stop this spread because it catches it really early. ... With our testing capacity and our wastewater, we’re ramping up to be able to have as many students back as we can have," said Young.

Less than half of CC’s students are physically on campus, as of this week, due to most classes going remote. Any students with an in-person class were allowed to stay.

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