Campus News

UGA cases of COVID-19 climb while interest in surveillance testing wanes

After three consecutive weeks of consistently low reports, cases of COVID-19 at the University of Georgia have climbed back to the level recorded at the first of March: 53 cases versus 33 the previous week.

Of those who reported positive tests through the DawgCheck system, 47 were students, five were staff members and one was a faculty member.

Surveillance tests were administered to 846 individuals at the Legion Field surveillance site and in a satellite location—the lowest number of participants since UGA initiated its testing program last August.  Of those tested, nine yielded positive results for a positivity rate of 1.42 percent, breaking a record of six straight weeks with a positivity rate below 1 percent.

“The data this week are disappointing but not surprising,” said Dr. Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “I think the rise can be attributed to several factors, but primarily the fact that we are collectively letting down our guard, which we cannot afford to do. While vaccines are now widely available, we are a long way from achieving herd immunity. I urge our faculty, staff and students to continue wearing their masks, maintaining social distance and washing their hands.”

The University Health Center is now administering vaccines to all members of the UGA community over the age of 16, and will be stepping up its efforts to vaccinate students next week. UGA will be sharing an educational webinar on vaccines statewide on Thursday. Locally, another round of T-shirts and other incentives will be provided at surveillance and vaccine sites as part of a campaign to revive participation in surveillance testing and promote the scheduling of vaccine appointments.

“We’ve been saying all along that we are ‘Georgia Strong, Dawg Strong,’” said Russo. “Now we need to Finish Strong. We only have five more weeks in the Spring Semester, so this is not the time to let up. I urge all of the members of our campus community to be vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The University reports test results on a weekly basis each Wednesday on the University Health Center website: The UHC website also now includes a Vaccine Dashboard that reports the amount of vaccine received and administered in a week, as well as the total number of vaccines given by the UHC to date.

The University Health Center and Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories are also meeting daily demand for testing with saliva-based testing that is free to faculty, staff and students.

The University is maintaining a stock of nearly 450 rooms to accommodate isolation and quarantine housing, as needed. At present, 2.3 percent of the housing stock is in use.

The University of Georgia community consists of nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff.