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Susquehanna University increases random testing, adds wastewater testing for COVID-19

The university in Selinsgrove is ramping up coronavirus testing efforts after someone tested positive.

SELINSGROVE, Pa. — Susquehanna University had its first positive case of COVID-19 since the start of the semester. Despite the low number of positive cases, Susquehanna is increasing its testing.

"We're not trying to be punitive, but we are trying to safeguard the wellbeing of the entire campus," said David Richard, Susquehanna University's COVID-19 coordinator, and a biology professor.

Richard says wastewater testing has been successful so far.

"Wastewater testing is based on the fact that an infected individual sheds virus as they go to the bathroom."

Susquehanna has 13 sewage sampling stations on campus.

"What they do is they take a sample over 24 hours. The sample is processed and sent to the lab near Philadelphia, and we get the results back."

If there is a positive wastewater test, officials can narrow it down to what building the result came from. Students in that building would then be tested.

"20 percent of the students are not covered under the wastewater COVID testing. So those students will now be randomly tested."

Each week, randomly selected students will get an alert to visit a testing station on campus.

In addition to all of this, officials here are limiting off-campus travel.

"We're asking students to limit it to essential travel only. Long-distance travel or overnight travel needs to be cleared with our risk management office," said Richard.

Susquehanna University students will be on campus until the end of November. They will not return until the spring semester.

Click here for the Susquehanna University coronavirus dashboard.