Campus News Health & Wellness

Reports of COVID-19 at UGA remain well below peak

Cases of COVID-19 held steady in the double digits last week, with 91 cases reported for the week of Sept. 20-26. Although the case count rose slightly over the previous week’s report, the total remained well below the peak of more than 500 reported cases earlier in the semester.

The University Health Center (UHC) posted the data as part of the weekly update on its website Wednesday morning. Of the 91 cases reported in DawgCheck, 67 were students, 19 were staff members and five were faculty.

The positivity rate for UGA’s surveillance testing was also low, with 19 of 1,158 asymptomatic individuals testing positive for a rate of 1.6%. The UHC can test up to 800 individuals a day, and this service is offered free to the campus 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, nearly 26,500 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.

This week, the UHC began offering booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine 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 Friday.

“Based on when most of our vaccines were administered in the spring, we will see our highest demand for booster appointments later this month or in November,” said Jen Swails, interim executive director of the University Health Center and co-chair of the University’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “However, just on the first day alone, we gave nearly 100 booster shots, and we have about 350 scheduled for the week. Our providers are pleased to be able to offer this latest service to our community.”

On Thursday, Sept. 30, at 5 p.m., the names of another 25 fully vaccinated individuals will be selected to win $1,000 cash prizes in the university’s vaccine drawing. So far, more than 23,500 faculty, staff and students have registered for the second 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.

“Our area health systems remain stressed by the number and severity of COVID-19 patients that they are caring for, most of whom are unvaccinated,” said Dr. Shelley Nuss, campus dean of the AU/UGA Medical Partnership and co-chair of the university’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and our community against COVID-19.”

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, 0.8% of the housing stock is in use.

The University of Georgia 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.