The University of Georgia matched the lowest number of positive COVID-19 cases to date last week—tying the number set prior to the start of classes for the Fall Semester—while participation in surveillance testing remained strong.
Of the 64 total positive cases reported through the University’s DawgCheck system for October 19 – 25, 46 were students and 18 were staff. No faculty members tested positive.
The University has implemented a campaign to sustain student interest in surveillance testing, and those efforts appear to be paying off. Participation held strong for the third consecutive week, with a total of 1,968 individuals being tested. Of those, 25 individuals tested positive, for a positivity rate of 1.27%.
“We continue to be pleased by the downward trends we are seeing at the University, but we know from the way the virus is spreading in other areas that we cannot relax the preventative measures we are taking,” said Dr. Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “We especially want to be mindful of the upcoming holiday season, and for that reason, we will soon be announcing our plan to test even more individuals prior to Thanksgiving.”
UGA will transition to online classes for the remainder of the Fall Semester following Thanksgiving Break, but the campus will remain open and services—including asymptomatic testing at the Legion Field site and symptomatic testing at the University Health Center—will still be provided.
The surveillance testing site at Legion Field can accommodate 500 individuals per day, often for walk-up appointments. Next week’s incentive for students will be a special “Beat Florida” T-shirt in the days leading up to the annual interstate football rivalry. The University Health Center also is offering pop-up, saliva-based testing locations across campus.
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 data consist 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.
“I am very pleased that this week’s report indicates that we are moving in the right direction and flattening the curve at UGA,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I continue to be grateful for the diligent efforts of our faculty, staff and students to wear their face masks, maintain social distancing and wash their hands. I especially want to remind our students to keep up these practices and make good decisions as they enjoy a brief Fall Break this weekend.”
Victor Wilson, UGA’s vice president for student affairs, echoed the President’s reminder:
“Whether we are traveling for vacation, going home for a few days or staying here in Athens, each of us has an important part to play in keeping our families and home communities safe, as well as our campus and University community when we return. I urge our students to continue to use DawgCheck each day, be vigilant about your symptoms following the break, and sign up for free surveillance testing upon your return to campus.”
The University is maintaining a stock of nearly 500 rooms on- and off-campus to accommodate isolation and quarantine housing, as needed. At present, 5.1% of the housing stock is in use.
The University of Georgia community consists of nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff.