Reported cases of COVID-19 at the University of Georgia fell sharply for the week of Sept. 6-12, down by two-thirds from the preceding week, according to data released today on the University Health Center’s website, which provides weekly updates to the campus community. The number of reported cases is the lowest in a month, since before classes began.
In total, 164 cases of COVID-19 were reported through DawgCheck, the university’s mandatory reporting system for positive tests, down from 505 the preceding week. Of the total, 128 were students, 32 were staff, and four were instructional faculty.
The University Health Center (UHC) offers free surveillance testing to faculty, staff and students and can accommodate up to 800 per day onsite at the UHC or in occasional pop-up clinics on campus. So far, demand for testing has been far below capacity. Last week, 1,422 participated in surveillance testing. Of those, 35 were positive, for a positivity rate of 2.46 percent, compared to 3.88% the previous week.
“Whenever we see a decline in cases, we are grateful, and we hope this downward trend holds,” said Dr. Shelley Nuss, campus dean of the AU/UGA Medical Partnership and co-chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force (MOTF). “We saw a similar pattern last fall: a peak in cases shortly after we began classes that then fell markedly and leveled off. We hope that with our continued push to encourage vaccinations, testing and masking, our numbers will continue to decline. COVID-19 is a very serious disease, and vaccines remain our best defense.”
The university is offering 100 cash prizes of $1,000 for faculty, staff and students who are fully vaccinated. A drawing for the first 50 winners will be held Wed., Sept. 15 at 5 p.m., with subsequent drawings of 25 winners each to be held on Sept. 30 and Oct. 15. As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, more than 21,000 individuals have registered. In addition, the university is giving away $20 gift cards and T-shirts to those who are vaccinated.
“Our providers at the Health Center are excited to see the strong interest that the university’s incentives are generating for vaccinations,” said Jen Swails, interim executive director of the UHC and co-chair of MOTF. “We know that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and the best action we can take to protect ourselves and our community is to be vaccinated.”
Since classes resumed, the UHC has administered nearly 2,000 vaccines onsite or in partnership with the local Department of Health in pop-up clinics. COVID-19 vaccines are free to faculty, staff and students and their dependents over age 16. To date, the UHC has administered 25,771 vaccines to the UGA community.
The University of Georgia 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.
As it did last year, the university is also maintaining a stock of rooms on- and off-campus to accommodate isolation and quarantine housing, as needed. At present, 2.3% of the housing stock is in use.
The University of Georgia community consists of nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff.
The DawgCheck 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.