Hundreds of students in quarantine after university in the United States finds COVID-19 in sewage

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As schools and universities across the United States monitor coronavirus outbreaks with human testing, officials at Utah State University say they have uncovered evidence of the virus in a different way .

The school found high amounts of COVID-19 in sewage samples taken from four dorms on campus.

Officials issued a security alert on Sunday calling for mandatory testing and quarantine of the 287 students living in the dorms of Rich, Jones, Morgan and Davis.

Classes started Monday at the school and some students had just moved into their rooms.

The mandatory quarantine is effective immediately and will continue until the test results are returned. The USU has also activated a COVID care team to organize resources to help affected students, including meal delivery.

Sampling of the wastewater began on July 1 and provides early warning to deal with potential cases, said Amanda DeRito, director of the university.

“The benefit of testing the water is that we get insight into what’s going on on campus and can quarantine even before a student becomes symptomatic. It’s also less invasive, ”DeRito said.

No further campus test samples taken this week show elevated levels of the virus and there are currently no reported positive tests for COVID-19 in quarantined residences, according to a press release from the university.

In mid-August, the CDC announced the creation of the National Wastewater Monitoring System to help local public health officials better understand the extent of the pandemic’s spread in their communities.

Wastewater from home and workplaces can be tested for the genetic material of the novel coronavirus. Studies show that the virus can be found in the feces of sick people and also of people who are not yet showing symptoms of COVID-19.

TESTING A “UTOPIAN” IDEA FOR ALL AMERICANS, SAYS THE ADMINISTRATION OFFICER

The adm. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration’s coronavirus testing czar, on Tuesday dismissed the idea of ​​daily COVID-19 testing for all Americans as “utopian.”

“It’s great to talk about this kind of utopian idea where everyone has a test every day and we can do it,” said Giroir. “I don’t live in a utopian world. I live in the real world, and the real world had no tests for this new disease when it started. ”

The Assistant Secretary of Health for the US Department of Health and Human Services said the country now has a “wide variety” of tests, including a $ 5 point-of-care test that provides results in 15 minutes.

“There is no unreturned stone, there is no technology that we don’t look at or invest in if it’s promising,” said Giroir. “We can go back to society without everyone having to take a test every day. We can do it. We show that we can do it.

“There may be a time when everyone can wake up in the morning, go through a tricorder and say if they’re infected or not,” said Giroir, referring to the fictional “Star Trek” handheld device that could scan people for data. . “We’re not there yet. ”

The availability and speed of testing has improved in the United States, especially since the catastrophic spring delays. Giroir said 91.9% of results from major reference laboratories, which perform about half of the tests in the United States, were completed in three days. The average turnaround time in August for large reference laboratories was 2.27 days.

Yet that average 2.27-day delay allows the virus to spread quietly, and experts in public health and the lab industry have repeatedly called on the federal government to play a greater leadership role in the process. coordination of test supplies.

US Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the House Majority Whip, responded to Giroir’s comments, saying, “It wouldn’t be utopian if we had a national program to fight this pandemic. It may happen state by state. But a national program would not be utopian at all. ”

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen said Giroir was attacking a straw man. Testing is an important part of public health strategy, but no one seriously claims that testing can solve everything on its own.

“He says, ‘People say we can try to get out of the pandemic.’ I’ve never seriously heard anyone say this, ”Cohen said. “He needs to stop inventing these boogies he fights against. No one tells him that we need a utopia. We’re just telling him he needs to do better. ”

Dr Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, noted on Twitter that White House staff are doing large-scale testing, as are sports leagues such as the NFL.

“It is no utopia to want to test teachers and children to return to school, residents of nursing homes to stay alive, first responders and other essential workers,” writes- he. “Of course, let’s call it utopia when it’s for the less privileged. “

DIRECT WARNINGS FOR IOWA

A report by the White House Coronavirus Task Force sent to Iowa state officials this week warned of a dramatic increase in new cases in rural and urban areas and called for a warrant of mask, the closing of bars and university towns to deal more with the pandemic. is intensifying in the Midwest.

CNN obtained the nine-page Aug. 30 report for the state, first reported by the Des Moines Register, of the Iowa Department of Public Health. The task force publishes state-by-state reports weekly to governors’ offices, and has so far refused to make them public.

The report says Iowa is in the task force’s “red zone” and warns that the state has the highest case rate in the United States, which is up 77.4% from to the previous week.

CAMPUS EPIDEMICS

In the report, the task force points to universities as a major factor contributing to the spread of the virus.

The three counties with the most cases also have large student populations: Story County, home to the state of Iowa, and Johnson County, home to the University of Iowa, as well as Polk County. , which contains Iowa’s largest metropolitan area, Des Moines.

The university crossed the 1,000 active cases mark on August 29 when it reported 302 cases in a single day. The current overall workload, including employees, is 1,026.

Other schools have reported outbreaks.

At the University of South Carolina, 1,017 students are currently living with Covid-19, according to the university’s Coronavirus Dashboard, making it one of the highest case counts on college in this day.

Despite the increase in the number of active cases and the fact that 60% of the university’s designated quarantine space is in use, according to its dashboard, the school still reports its “alert level” as “low “.

The University of Missouri has 424 active student cases of Covid-19, according to the school’s Covid-19 dashboard. James Madison University is reporting 138 new positive cases for Covid-19 among its students and employees since Monday, according to the JMU dashboard.

More than 20,000 cases of Covid-19 among students and staff have been reported at colleges and universities in at least 36 states, according to a CNN tally.

The campus reopens represent new coronavirus hotspots in a country that already has enough as the United States surpassed the total of 6 million confirmed cases on Monday.

NIH REJECTS PLASMA TREATMENT

A National Institutes of Health panel said there was no evidence supporting the use of convalescent plasma to treat coronavirus patients and that doctors should not treat it as a standard of care until d other studies will not have been carried out.

“There is not enough data to recommend for or against the use of convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID-19,” said the panel of more than three dozen experts in a statement posted on the site NIH Web.

The statement, which was released quietly, contradicts the Trump administration’s characterization of the treatment as “historic” and “a major breakthrough” and directly refers to last week’s emergency use authorization. by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Also on Tuesday, an independent committee said any possible coronavirus vaccine should go to those most at risk of catching it first.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s draft report makes similar recommendations to those from other groups, but it goes into detail on why health workers, for example, should be among the first to to get vaccinated.

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