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UGA Reports Drop in COVID-19 Cases While Some Question New Stats

The University of Georgia reported 421 positive COVID-19 tests for the week of Sept. 7 on Wednesday, down from a revised total of 1,490 for the week of Aug. 31.

“These data give us some cautious optimism that cases might have plateaued on our campus,” Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force, said in a news release. “However, we are by no means out of the woods yet. We know that we had a short week due to the Labor Day holiday, and we hope that we will not see a spike in positive cases from activities that weekend. Each member of our campus community must remain diligent in our individual efforts to curb the spread of the virus if we want to keep these numbers on a downward trend.”

However, there are signs that the decrease in cases is mainly the result of less testing, rather than slowing the spread of coronavirus. The positive rate among 1,665 asymptomatic students, faculty and staff who took surveillance tests was 7.6%, down only slightly from 9% the previous week.

The news was met with skepticism on Twitter, where many people speculated that students are simply not getting tested or not reporting the results because they don’t want to quarantine or risk sanctions.

UGA reported that their were 94 positive tests at the University Health Center, down from 405 the previous week, but did not say how many people were tested. Positives at other local testing sites were down from 201 to 50, and positive tests at unknown locations reported through the DawgCheck app declined from 741 to 151.

University of Georgia

Data on viruses found in wastewater from dorms scheduled for release Thursday could provide a clearer picture.

For the week of Aug. 24, UGA reported that out of 357 students who responded to a survey, 13% were asymptomatic, 1% had been hospitalized and 93% had recovered.

On the same day that UGA released its new batch of statistics, Clarke County saw an increase in cases. After declining significantly earlier this week, Clarke County had 67 confirmed new cases on Wednesday, up from 49 on Tuesday and 37 on Monday.

Clarke County currently has 1,188 cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days. That’s the third-highest in the state, behind Wheeler County and Chattahoochee County, where there’s been an outbreak at Fort Benning. The Clarke County School District’s benchmark for beginning to reopen K-12 public schools is 175 cases per 100,000 people within a 14-day window.

To date, Clarke County has recorded 4,719 cases of COVID-19, with 37 deaths and 199 hospitalizations among Clarke residents, according to the Georgia Department of Health.