For the second consecutive week, cases of COVID-19 have declined significantly at the University of Georgia, with 77 cases reported for the week of Sept. 13-19, compared to 164 cases the preceding week. The decline represents a 53% drop in cases over a one-week period and an 85% decline since the peak two weeks ago.
The University Health Center (UHC) posted the data as part of the weekly update on its website Wednesday morning. Of the 77 cases reported in DawgCheck, 51 were students, 24 were staff members and two were faculty.
The positivity rate for UGA’s surveillance testing was also markedly lower, with eight of 1,196 asymptomatic individuals testing positive for a rate of 0.67%—the lowest rate UGA has ever reported when regular classes are in session. The UHC can test up to 800 individuals a day, and this service is offered free to the campus community.
“We are very encouraged to see these significant declines in the number of COVID cases reported at the University of Georgia,” said Shelley Nuss, campus dean of the AU/UGA Medical Partnership and co-chair of the University’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “These results mirror what we are seeing in the local community and region. The overall decline in cases is resulting in a lower number of hospitalizations and ICU beds used for COVID-19 illness. We all hope this downward trend is sustained, and to achieve that goal, we must continue urging people to be vaccinated and to wear their masks indoors.”
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, more than 26,000 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.
On Sept. 15, the university drew the names of 50 lucky individuals who were the first to win $1,000 cash prizes in the University’s drawings for fully vaccinated faculty, staff and students. More than 21,000 individuals had registered for the drawing. Another 50 winners will be selected over the course of two more drawings to be held on Sept. 30 and Oct. 15.
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, 1.6% 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.