Virus that causes COVID-19 found during wastewater test at UNCC dorm

CHARLOTTE — Students at UNC Charlotte are having to stay inside their dorm after the virus that causes COVID-19 was detected in the building’s wastewater.

School officials sent out a Niner Alert Friday morning saying the university’s wastewater testing detected the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in its routine sampling in one residence hall.

The school would not identify the dorm, citing privacy reasons for those who live there, but all students and staff in the building have been notified.

Channel 9 has learned that Holshouser dorm is the affected building. One student who lives in the dorm told Channel 9 she’s only been back at school for a couple of weeks and doesn’t want to have to go home again.

“I’ve been staying really, really, really safe so the fact this is already happening our third week in -- because people can’t pay attention, because people can’t do what they’re supposed to and be smart -- I just can’t comprehend the lack of empathy and stupidity,” said junior Elizabeth Painter.

Painter told Channel 9 she’s glad the university found the virus before it became a big issue that forced students to return home.

Sophia Fernandez lives in the dorm beside Painter and said she’s hoping for all negative results, so they everyone can get the college experience they deserve.

“I feel like we’ll all get through it and it’ll make us stronger at the end of the day,” she said.

UNCC officials said, per established protocols, everyone in the dorm is required to stay in the building until they can be tested for COVID-19 on Friday afternoon. During this time, all residents of the dorm are required to stay in place except to pick up to-go meals, accept meal delivery and attend medical appointments.

Officials said that so far, nobody in the residence hall has reported symptoms of a COVID-19-related illness.

No other residence halls have been affected.

Students who live in the dorm will remain under this directive until their test results are returned approximately 24 hours after their tests.

The school said that anyone testing positive or identified as a close contact of anyone who tests positive “will be placed in quarantine/isolation in accordance with the university’s on-campus quarantine/isolation protocols.”

In an effort to further protect the campus community, UNCC is using wastewater testing because studies have indicated it can identify the presence of SARS-CoV-2 days before symptoms appear, the school said.

The news comes just days after students moved into the dorms on campus and on just the second day of in-person-instruction.

>> In the Facebook Live video below, reporter Anthony Kustura breaks down what we know so far.

If you think you have COVID-19

Anyone in the UNCC community experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches or a cough, should immediately contact their medical provider or the Student Health Center and visit the Emergency Management website for additional information about updating the University on their COVID-19 status through the daily Niner Health Check.