Ransomware attacks have been in the news lately, including an attack over the Fourth of July weekend that impacted up to 1,500 organizations. In this edition of “ITS In-Depth,” we speak with Syracuse University Chief Information Security Officer Chris Croad…
Update on Syracuse University’s COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Program
Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Families:
I want to extend my gratitude to the residents and staff of Ernie Davis Hall, as well as everyone else involved in the response associated with the detection of COVID-19 virus in the wastewater at Ernie Davis Hall. All individuals living and working in the building reacted calmly but with purpose to address the situation. We completed COVID-19 surveillance testing for all residents, as well as staff working in the building, late last night. We hope to have those tests back from the laboratory soon, and we will take appropriate action based on what we learn from the results.
Our wastewater testing of all residence halls is designed to proactively advance our ability to trace and isolate possible COVID-19 infections on our campus. Importantly, like with other COVID-related data and information, we are committed to full transparency related to this effort.
To date, wastewater tested at Lawrinson, Flint, Day, Booth, Shaw and Walnut have all produced negative results. However, today epidemiologists did detect a very weak virus signal in the wastewater from Sadler Hall. Importantly, this is a fundamentally different situation as compared to the recent wastewater test results from Ernie Davis Hall, where the virus signal was consistently present and more pronounced. It is also the case that several residents of Sadler Hall have recently recovered from COVID-19, and it is quite possible that this weak virus signal is an artifact of those prior positive cases.
For these reasons, the public health team does not believe that the current evidence supports a self-quarantine directive for all residents of Sadler Hall, akin to the protocol enacted yesterday at Ernie Davis Hall. Instead, they do believe that the most appropriate course of action is to commence comprehensive COVID surveillance testing of all Sadler residents, while also continuing to closely test and monitor wastewater from Sadler Hall.
Accordingly, today all residents of Sadler Hall received a notification requesting that they report and be tested, at one of two COVID-19 surveillance testing stations that have been set up on the Quad (in front of Carnegie Library). Employees who work in Sadler Hall have also been asked to make themselves available to be tested today on the Quad.
I recognize that any virus detection stemming from our wastewater surveillance program—weak or strong—will create some anxiety and may result in disruption to daily routines or schedules. However, this program is a critical dimension of the system of protections in place to support quick action in response to any potential infection on our campus—and it is working exactly as intended.
We appreciate everyone’s cooperation as we take these important actions to keep our community safe.
J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation