Cases of COVID-19 reached a new record low for the semester at the University of Georgia, with 28 cases reported for the week of Oct. 4-10. The latest figure marks a 41% decrease in reported cases from the previous week and a 95% decrease from the peak of reported cases earlier this semester. The continuing decline in reported cases on campus mirrors recent trends in the local surrounding community and across the state of Georgia.
The University Health Center (UHC) posted the data as part of the weekly update on its website Wednesday morning. Of the 28 cases reported in DawgCheck, 19 were students, six were staff members and three were faculty.
In addition, the positivity rate for UGA’s surveillance testing also reached a new record low since classes returned for regular session, with three of 695 asymptomatic individuals testing positive for a rate of 0.43%.
The UHC can test up to 800 individuals a day, and this service is offered free to the campus community.
“The continued decline of reported COVID-19 cases on campus, as well as those across the state, gives us hope that our mitigation efforts are working and that our community is committed to fighting this virus,” said Jen Swails, interim executive director of the University Health Center and co-chair of the University’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “We continue encouraging all students, faculty and staff who have yet to receive a vaccination to sign up now and protect those around them.”
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 27,500 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.
The UHC recently 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 Sept. 22.
“Vaccines remain one of our most vital tools to continue fighting this pandemic, and we’re pleased to continue offering vaccinations, as well as boosters, on campus and throughout the community,” said Dr. Shelley Nuss, campus dean of the AU/UGA Medical Partnership and co-chair of the University’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “We remain cautiously optimistic by the recent decline in cases, but the pandemic is not over. COVID-19 is a serious illness, and your best defense is to receive a vaccination to protect yourself and the campus community.”
Later this week, the names of another 25 fully vaccinated individuals will be selected to win $1,000 cash prizes in the university’s vaccine drawing. The first 50 names were selected on Sept. 15 and another 25 names were selected on Sept. 30. This week’s drawing marks the final round for these incentives.
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. Currently, none of the housing stock is in use.
The UGA 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.