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  • Writer's pictureBeth & Tim Manners

Colleges Innovate Novel Virus Solutions

The New York Times: "The fall of 2020 will go down as a period of profound experimentation at colleges and universities transformed into hothouse laboratories. They are trying out wastewater tests, dozens of health-check apps and versions of homegrown contact technologies that log student movement and exposure risk. And they are experimenting with different testing methods that might yield faster results and be easier to administer, such as using saliva instead of nasal swabs."

"Like small island nations with discrete populations, many universities are using methods that cities, states and nations often cannot. The colleges have some authority over relatively captive communities, which are made up of students largely at ease with new technology. Plus, the schools have profound motivation: Their very economic survival depends on people coming to campus safely ... Thousands of positive cases have already been reported on scores of newly reopened campuses."

"These trial-and-error experiments could seed technologies to help the rest of society cope with the pandemic ... An app, known as Covid Watch and developed on a platform built by Apple and Google, anonymously tracks students’ movements using Bluetooth technology; those who download the app will be notified if they have been in proximity to someone who has tested positive ... To grapple with the privacy implications, the university has made use of the app voluntary. The information is kept on personal devices — phones or watches or other Bluetooth-enabled technology — and the users are the ones who would permit a positive test to be shared, with their identities kept secret."

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