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New NMSU study hopes to detect virus spread on campus

nmsu testing
An NMSU virus testing site.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Is Covid-19 spreading undetected on college campuses?

To answer that question, New Mexico State University researchers hope to randomly test 250 students and employees each week this semester as part of an ambitious new study.

"One of the problems is that people may be walking around carrying the virus and not show any symptoms," explained Christopher Sroka, an assistant professor of applied statistics. "By actively testing them on a regular basis, we can find those people and identify them."

The testing is free and completely voluntary, Sroka explained. The university will send out emails inviting random members of the campus to participate in the study.

"It's about ensuring representation, because we think it's possible that people who have different living arrangements or live in different locations may have a higher risk for carrying the virus," Sroka told ABC-7.

The university hopes to test the samples on campus in collaboration with TriCore Reference Laboratories, which recently started a lab at NMSU.

"TriCore allows us to to a large amount of testing and get results very quickly," Sroka said.

There will also be wastewater testing at the university, which was credited with preventing an outbreak at the University of Arizona this month.

"The wastewater will be able to tell us if there is a cluster of cases in a building and will give us advance notice of it," Sroka said.

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

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Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.


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