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COVID-19 Cases at UGA Rise Again

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The University of Georgia’s weekly COVID-19 data release showed another week of increased cases Nov. 2-8.

According to self-reported data from the DawgCheck app, there were 87 positive tests last week, with 63 from students and 24 from staff. This is up from last week’s 79 positive cases and marks another consecutive week of increased staff cases. The previous week, there were 20 reported positive cases from staff.

Surveillance testing participation was up again last week, with 2,225 tests given to asymptomatic individuals and 31 positives, for a positive rate of 1.39%. For the two weeks before Thanksgiving, UGA has increased its daily surveillance testing capacity to 1,000 tests a day in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 as students head back home for Thanksgiving and the end of the semester. Each day, the University Health Center announces via its website a location for pop-up testing that can accommodate up to 250 people. The remaining 750 tests are available at the Legion Field surveillance testing location.

“We are excited that so many members of our UGA community are taking advantage of the free surveillance testing being offered on our campus,” said Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force, in a press release. “This is particularly important as we head toward the Thanksgiving holiday. If our students, faculty or staff are planning to be with loved ones, then for the health and welfare of all involved, they need to know if they are virus-free.”

At the University Health Center, where symptomatic tests are given on campus, there were a total of 171 Covid-19 tests given and 9 positives for a positivity rate of 5.3%. That’s down from last week’s 12 positive cases and 6.9 percent positivity rate. Additionally, there were 41 positive tests given in the Athens community and other categories listed in the data. That’s up from last week’s 34 positive cases.

While the United States hit a record of over 140,000 cases in a day recently, new cases in Athens-Clarke County continue to hold steady. There were 167 new Athens-Clarke County cases this week, compared to 164 new cases last week, and seven people were hospitalized. That brings Athens-Clarke County’s cumulative totals to 6,018 positive cases, 262 hospitalizations and 50 deaths. In addition, rapid antigen testing data showed that there have been another 1,149 likely cases, an increase of 78 from last week. All combined, viral and antigen positive cases are now at 7,167, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

UGA’s wastewater study continues to provide further perspective on Athens-Clarke County. The Center for the Ecology of Infectious Disease study now takes samples from all three wastewater plants twice a week. 

“The trends for SARS-CoV-2 levels in wastewater have been relatively stable for the past couple of weeks, with some slight shifts both up and down, suggesting that we have some persistent level of transmission in the community,” said project leader Erin Lipp. “This is also reflected in the stable daily case report data over the last few weeks. Results this week did show slight increases in viral load, but it’s not clear if this is another temporary shift or if it is part of an emerging trend. However, daily case reports have ticked up this week as well.”

The Whitehouse Coronavirus Task Force Report, obtained by Flagpole through open records, shows Athens in the yellow category this week, and the report recommends a more proactive testing strategy, particularly among 18-40 year olds, who are likely spreading the virus despite being asymptomatic.

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