Cases of COVID-19 reached an all-time low for the semester at the University of Georgia, with 47 cases reported for the week of Sept. 27-Oct. 3. The latest figure, a 48% decrease from the previous week, shows an overall decline in cases reported on campus, mirroring similar recent trends in the local community and across the state.
The University Health Center (UHC) posted the data as part of the weekly update on its website Wednesday morning. Of the 47 cases reported in DawgCheck, 33 were students, 11 were staff members and three were faculty.
The positivity rate for UGA’s surveillance testing was low again this week, with 9 of 843 asymptomatic individuals testing positive for a rate of 1.068%. The UHC can test up to 800 individuals a day, and this service is offered free to the campus community.
“We’re extremely pleased to see the latest low reports of COVID-19 in our campus community and continue to be encouraged with the declining trend of reports throughout the area,” said Jen Swails, interim executive director of the University Health Center and co-chair of the University’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “The best path to success in fighting this virus remains for our community to get vaccinated. We’re grateful that so many students, faculty and staff have taken the shot, yet we remain ready and willing to continue to vaccinate the rest of our community.”
The University Health Center is offering COVID-19 vaccinations free of charge to faculty, staff and students and their dependents over age 16. To date, more than 27,000 vaccines have been administered to members of the UGA community. The university is also offering incentives for vaccinations, such as $20 gift cards and T-shirts, while supplies last.
The UHC began offering booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine last week to faculty, staff, students and their eligible dependents who had received their second dose at least six months ago. The FDA approved the administration of boosters on Sept. 22.
“These latest numbers show our continued fight against COVID-19 is working, but our community needs to remain vigilant every step of the way,” said Dr. Shelley Nuss, campus dean of the AU/UGA Medical Partnership and co-chair of the University’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “Booster shots, for those who are eligible, offer continued protection against the virus, and there remains plenty of vaccine available on campus and in the surrounding area for those who have yet to be vaccinated.”
Last week, the names of another 25 fully vaccinated individuals were selected to win $1,000 cash prizes in the university’s vaccine drawing. The first 50 names were selected on Sept. 15, with the final drawing to be held on Oct. 15. In all, $100,000 in federal relief funds will be awarded.
As it did last year, the university is maintaining a stock of rooms on- and off-campus to accommodate isolation and quarantine housing, as needed. At present, less than 1% of the housing stock is in use.
The UGA community consists of nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff. UGA is a part of a university system of 26 members institutions and must follow the directives of the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents. The USG does not allow its institutions to enact mask or vaccine mandates, but vaccinations and the wearing of masks indoors are strongly encouraged.
The weekly DawgCheck reporting data consist of tests from four sources: (1) tests conducted through UGA’s surveillance testing program; (2) symptomatic tests conducted at the University Health Center; (3) reports from Athens-area medical providers; and (4) reports of positive tests from other sources.