According to data released today by the University of Georgia in its weekly update to the campus community, student cases of COVID-19 rose again last week, while those of faculty and staff remained at a very low level.
A total of 1,417 positive tests were reported through the university’s DawgCheck reporting system for the period of Aug. 31 – Sept. 4. Of those, 1,402 were students, 14 were staff, and one was a faculty member. That means 99% of the cases were among students.
The data suggest that spread is not happening through classroom settings, according to Dr. Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force.
“With only one faculty member testing positive during this period, we can surmise that the preventive measures the university has taken to control the classroom environment—such as installing HEPA filters, marking off social distancing, installing plexiglass shields and mandating masks—are working to make our classrooms safe places for students and faculty,” said Russo.
The university reports test results on a weekly basis each Wednesday on the University Health Center website: https://uhs.uga.edu/healthtopics/covid-19-health-and-exposure-updates. The DawgCheck data consists of tests from four sources: (1) tests conducted through UGA’s surveillance testing program; (2) tests conducted at the University Health Center; (3) reports from Athens-area medical providers; and (4) reports of positive tests from other sources.
Nearly half of the positive tests reported through DawgCheck for the time period were from the Other category (703). Many of these positive tests are reported to be from urgent care clinics and testing centers at a wide variety of locations in and out of the state of Georgia. Starting today, the university has added questions to the survey to help determine the location of these unknown test sites.
UGA announced Tuesday that it is increasing the number of free tests administered at its surveillance testing site to 450 per day. This site accommodates asymptomatic students, faculty and staff at no cost to the individuals. Of 1,557 nasopharyngeal swabs collected during the time period, a total of 125 were positive. Of these, 125 were students. No faculty or staff members tested positive.
Tests of students with symptoms are conducted at no out-of-pocket expense to students at the University Health Center. A total of 405 cases of COVID-19 were reported during this period through testing at the UHC.
Another 184 positive tests were reported from tests run at Athens-area medical providers.
The University of Georgia community consists of nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff.
“The rising number of positive tests for students last week is very disturbing,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I would again remind students of their important responsibility to follow the rules intended to protect the health of our campus and our local community: wear your masks, maintain your distance from others, make wise decisions, and stay away from social venues where appropriate distancing is impossible to maintain. Each of us must make sound decisions in the coming days and weeks so that we can turn the trajectory, as we have seen at other institutions in the state.”