Cases of COVID-19 at UGA hold steady but officials disappointed at low testing participation

press release from the university of Georgia

Athens, Ga. – Positive test results for COVID-19 at the University of Georgia held relatively steady for the week of September 28 – October 4 at 66 cases.

Of the positive cases reported through the University’s DawgCheck system, 52 were students, 12 were staff and two were faculty members. The positivity rate at UGA’s surveillance testing site, where 1,365 tests were administered, dropped to 1.17%.

“While I am pleased that the number of positive test results remained flat this week, I am discouraged to see that participation in surveillance testing has further declined,” said Dr. Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “We are offering nasopharyngeal testing—one of the most reliable methods available—for free to our faculty, staff and students at Legion Field. A robust testing program for asymptomatic individuals is an essential component of our ongoing efforts to fight this disease, and we need significant and representative segments of our campus community to take part.”

The testing site can accommodate 500 individuals per day and can often accommodate walk-up appointments. This week, as part of the University Health Center’s randomization protocol, 700 faculty who are teaching large in-person classes have been specifically invited to participate. 

The University reports test results on a weekly basis each Wednesday on the University Health Center website: https://uhs.uga.edu/healthtopics/covid-19-health-and-exposure-updates. The data consist of tests from four sources: (1) tests conducted through UGA’s surveillance testing program; (2) tests conducted at the University Health Center; (3) reports from Athens-area medical providers; and (4) reports of positive tests from other sources.

Information on the UHC website also includes supplemental data on the experiences of students who have received positive tests. This information is obtained through a follow-up survey sent through the DawgCheck system 14 days following a positive test. The responses allow UGA’s Student Care and Outreach unit to provide additional support to students who have ongoing concerns.

The follow-up data for the week of September 14 – 20 were remarkably similar to previous weeks: no student respondents reported hospitalizations, and 93% reported that they had fully recovered from their symptoms.

“I would remind our campus community—particularly our students who are attending this week’s home football game against Tennessee—to take all necessary precautions before, during and after the game,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Maintain social distancing, wear your face coverings, and wash your hands. By making sound personal choices, we can better protect the Bulldog Nation.” 

The University is maintaining a stock of 500 rooms on- and off-campus to accommodate isolation and quarantine housing, as needed. At present, only 3.4% of the housing stock is in use. 

The University of Georgia community consists of nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff.  

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