Participation in COVID-19 surveillance testing at the University of Georgia set a new record last week, even though the last day of the workweek constituted Fall Break for students.
A total of 2,108 individuals volunteered for asymptomatic testing by the University, and of those, 33 tested positive for a positivity rate of 1.57%.
Overall, 79 positive tests were reported through the University’s DawgCheck system for October 26 – November 1, comprising 57 students, 20 staff and two faculty members.
“Participation in surveillance testing remains one of our primary tools for keeping the spread of COVID-19 in check, and we are pleased to see that interest in UGA’s testing program remains high,” said Dr. Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we will be expanding our testing program. Those who are considering traveling to be with loved ones should know whether they are virus-free, and the best way to determine that is to have a negative COVID-19 test before heading home.”
Today, Russo and his colleagues on the Medical Oversight Task Force announced to the UGA community that the capacity of UGA’s surveillance testing program will increase to 1,000 participants per day for the two-week period from November 9 – 20. This total will consist of 750 nasopharyngeal tests to be administered at the Legion Field site and 250 saliva-based tests to be administered through three pop-up sites (with precise locations TBD).
While most test results are received within 24 – 48 hours, results can occasionally take up to 72 hours. Therefore, faculty, staff and students are advised to be tested on or before Friday, November 20 to ensure that results will be in hand by Wednesday, November 25. As an added incentive, those who are tested during this period will receive new “Georgia Strong/Dawg Strong” face coverings, as well as coupons for on-campus retail locations and the UGA Bookstore.
“Once again, I want to commend our faculty, staff and students for taking the steps necessary to protect themselves and those around them,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Their level of commitment is evidenced by the strong participation we continue to see in our surveillance testing program. As we head toward the Thanksgiving holiday, we must remain vigilant and remember to maintain social distancing, wear our face coverings and wash our hands.”
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 October 12 – 18 were remarkably similar to previous weeks: no student respondents reported hospitalizations, and 91% reported that they had fully recovered from their symptoms.
The University is maintaining a stock of 500 rooms on- and off-campus to accommodate isolation and quarantine housing, as needed. At present, 4.3% of the housing stock is in use.
The University of Georgia community consists of nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff.