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Carol Wilusz’s mornings now often start at 4 a.m., scanning the contents of undergraduates’ feces. Specifically, scanning the data on how much coronavirus they flushed into the shadows, destined to be extracted from 17 manholes connected to dorm buildings on Colorado State University’s Fort Collins campus.

“There are quite extensive numbers of poop jokes,” said Wilusz, a CSU molecular biologist.

Emerging research suggests infected people start shedding the coronavirus in their poop early in their infection, and possibly days before they begin shedding it from their mouths and noses. “It means that we can catch them before they’re actually spreading the infection,” she said.

In normal times, Wilusz

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