The University of Georgia set a goal for its voluntary surveillance testing program to administer more than 24,000 COVID-19 tests to faculty, staff and students by Thanksgiving. However, when the pre-Thanksgiving push wrapped up last week, 29,927 tests had been conducted over the course of the Fall Semester, far exceeding original plans.
In addition, for the fourth consecutive week, UGA set another record high for participation in its surveillance testing program, with 5,083 asymptomatic individuals tested at Legion Field and in pop-up satellite sites across campus during the week of November 16-20. Of those who participated, 38 tested positive, for a positivity rate of 0.75%.
“To say I am pleased with the effectiveness of our testing program would be an understatement,” said Dr. Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “In just a matter of weeks, our teams at the Health Center and Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Labs gained approval for human testing and set up a test site at Legion Field. Over the course of the fall, we were able to greatly expand capacity as our processes improved, and our faculty, staff and students clearly recognized the importance of our program and took part in order to help safeguard our campus community.”
The University has been reporting 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.
For the week of November 16-22, 97 individuals reported positive tests through the DawgCheck system. Of those, 78 were students, 16 were staff and 3 were faculty members.
Although the University has moved all classes and exams online after the Thanksgiving Break, UGA will continue to offer free surveillance testing through December 23 at Legion Field, and the University Health Center also will continue to offer testing for students who have symptoms.
“My thanks go to the dedicated teams in the University Health Center and the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab for building and scaling our campus surveillance testing program,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I also want to thank those faculty, staff, and students who have volunteered this fall to help mitigate spread within our community. As we enter the holiday season, we must continue to be diligent: wear your mask, wash your hands repeatedly throughout the day, and avoid large gatherings where social distancing cannot be ensured. Everyone must remain committed to these best practices.”
Of the rooms available for isolation and quarantine housing, only 3.1% are currently in use.
During the online period following Thanksgiving, weekly test results will continue to be posted each Wednesday on the UHC website through the end of the term on December 23, although this announcement will be the last of the fall semester.
The University of Georgia community consists of nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff.