The campus has recently detected COVID-19 in University Village wastewater, a campus-owned family housing community about three miles from campus, in Albany. While students at UVA already have access to and are encouraged to participate in weekly campus COVID-19 surveillance testing held on-campus, University Health Services is responding to this development by offering and encouraging free COVID-19 testing onsite at University Village Thursday afternoon. Students at University Village have been encouraged to pick-up at-home saliva tests today, Thursday, Dec. 3, for drop-off tomorrow morning. The wastewater at Clark Kerr student residences has also recently contained COVID-19. Students there have been instructed to schedule their regularly required twice weekly surveillance testing before the weekend. While there have been scattered COVID-19 cases at the Clark Kerr campus and University Village over the last few weeks there has been no notable increase in individuals testing positive at either location, as compared to the overall community. Overall, the percentage of COVID-19 positives in the campus community has remained under 2%. There has been an uptick in cases in recent weeks, as has been the case in most of the United States, and everyone is reminded to remain vigilant. While we continue to see cases that are apparently related to holiday travel or gatherings, we are also seeing more cases without clear origin. Still, the campus has not experienced any significant clusters for some time. The good news is this means people seem to be limiting larger gatherings; the bad news is that the virus appears to be more diffusely spread throughout our local community.
Information on COVID-19 wastewater testing
As part of its COVID-19 surveillance strategy, researchers at UC Berkeley have partnered with Environment, Health & Safety to monitor wastewater from several areas in and around campus, using samplers placed strategically in sewer systems. We are only beginning to learn what positive signals mean, in terms of correlation with cases. We do not know if a positive signal means one person or five people, and we do not know how long people shed into the sewage system after infection, or if it correlates with someone who is infectious. Further, the testing may include wastewater from a nearby area, not just the campus property.