For the second consecutive week, the University of Georgia has experienced a sharp decline in the number of positive tests of COVID-19 reported by faculty, staff and students—while participation in on-campus surveillance testing has reached a new high.
A total of 163 positive tests were reported through the University’s DawgCheck reporting system for the period of September 14 – 20. Of those, 153 were students and 10 were staff members. No faculty members reported positive tests. The positivity rate at UGA’s surveillance testing site, where 1,974 tests were administered, dropped to 3.55%.
“Obviously, this downward trend is what you want to see,” said Dr. Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “It demonstrates that the decrease we saw last week was not an anomaly: quite the contrary, even more individuals were tested, yet our numbers continued to decline. We must continue to work together to maintain this momentum and flatten the curve. Now is not the time to relax on best practices.”
Russo and his colleagues on UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force sent a memo to the campus community on Tuesday, calling on students, faculty and staff to continue to take part in the free surveillance testing offered at Legion Field. The University has expanded its capacity in recent weeks to facilitate nearly 500 tests per day, Monday through Friday, with same-day appointments often available.
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.
According to this data, no student respondents reported hospitalizations for the week of August 31 – September 6, and 92% reported that they had fully recovered from their symptoms.
“This second week of low numbers and an ever-improving positivity rate are very encouraging,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “It’s clear that the measures we are taking on campus and in our classrooms are working. However, let’s not become complacent. COVID-19 remains a serious public health issue. In order to combat the virus, we must continue to make wise choices as individuals: wear our masks, maintain social distancing, and stay away from venues where appropriate distancing cannot be maintained. Let’s all remain focused and united as we seek to make further progress in the weeks ahead.”
The University is maintaining a stock of 500 rooms on- and off-campus to accommodate isolation and quarantine housing, as needed. At present, only about 9% of the housing stock is in use.
The University of Georgia community consists of nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff.