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UGA Professors Call for More COVID Testing on Campus

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Four University of Georgia public health and policy experts wrote an AJC guest column calling for UGA to drastically increase COVID-19 testing and be more transparent about data, including releasing daily information on how many people have tested positive, are in quarantine and are hospitalized.

The column on Maureen Downey’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog Get Schooled was written by public administration and policy professors Amanda Abraham and W. David Bradford, and health policy and management professors Grace Bagwell Adams and Zhou “Adam” Chen.

We are in grave danger that is made doubly acute because we are operating blindly. Rather than testing more than 6,000 students, faculty, and staff per day as is needed to manage a COVID outbreak, rather than provide testing data daily so we can actively surveille and anticipate the need to pivot, rather than operating our own contact tracing program to manage outbreaks, our leaders have adopted a regime of secrecy that serves to bury our collective heads in the sand.

Everyone in the state (including us) wants UGA to reopen. But, paramount above all else is the imperative to reopen in a safe and responsible manner; lives, literally, depend on it. We regretfully conclude that UGA’s plan for testing, tracing, and data-sharing fails miserably in terms of adequacy for surveillance or management, action, and transparency.

The column cites a model by UGA infectious diseases professor John Drake concluding that the university should be testing 6,000 people per day to prevent an outbreak, rather than the 300 per day UGA is currently equipped to test. Drake estimates that even with masks and social distancing on campus, 30,000 students and employees will be infected with coronavirus this semester, primarily from off-campus interactions.