Record numbers of students, faculty and staff are being tested for COVID-19 at the University of Georgia in the weeks leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, and the positivity rate for surveillance testing is at an all-time low.
UGA has expanded its testing capacity and incentivized participation, and in response, 2,544 members of the UGA community were tested at the main testing site at Legion Field or at satellite “pop-up” locations around campus last week. Of those, 24 individuals tested positive, for a .94% positivity rate—the lowest level since UGA began surveillance testing in August.
Overall, 78 individuals reported positive tests through the DawgCheck system for November 9 – 15. Of those, 60 were students, 17 were staff, and one was a faculty member.
“While I am pleased to see so many people taking advantage of our free testing prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, we still have capacity to process more,” said Dr. Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “We can accommodate up to 1,000 individuals per day through our pre-Thanksgiving ramp-up, and I’d like to see us hit that number in the days that remain this week.”
Russo pointed out that anyone who is tested by this Friday will receive the results of their test before next Wednesday, November 25—the day before Thanksgiving. The University is continuing to offer incentives like face coverings and coupons for on-campus retail locations to encourage participation. UGA will also offer surveillance testing on Monday and Tuesday of next week, but those results will most likely not be known prior to the holiday.
“Anyone who is planning to visit with relatives over the holidays really should be tested,” said Russo. “Knowing your health status can provide peace of mind for all involved, and it helps to safeguard the community.”
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.
The University is maintaining a stock of 500 rooms to accommodate isolation and quarantine housing, as needed. At present, 5% of the housing stock is in use.
The University of Georgia community consists of nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff.