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UGA Data Shows Slight Increase in COVID-19 Cases and More Testing

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wednesday’s weekly release of COVID-19 testing data from UGA shows a slight increase in positive cases compared to last week, with 92 positive cases reported for the week of Oct. 5-12, compared to 52 last week. Of the positive cases, 80 were students, 10 were staff and two were faculty.

In a sign that UGA’s efforts to incentivize surveillance testing on campus is working, this week’s data also showed a 42% increase in surveillance testing, for a total of 1,944 participants at the Legion Field site last week. The previous week, 1,365 tests were administered at the surveillance site. The surveillance testing positivity rate was 1.44%, up from 1.17% rate.

Outside of surveillance testing, 155 COVID-19 tests were performed at the University Health Center for students reporting symptoms. Those results showed 11 positive cases, or 7%, and 144 negative.

“We are really pleased to see such a significant increase in the number of individuals being tested this week,” said Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force, in a news release. “It can be easy, when cases have dropped as much as they have from the start of the semester, to let down your guard and become complacent. We can’t afford to let that happen.”

On its coronavirus website, UGA also introduced new graphs this week breaking down types of testing and positive rates over time.

UGA Student Affairs launched a campaign to motivate interest in the free surveillance testing program last week. According to this week’s faculty/staff digest message, participants received a buy-one-get-one-free card for Jittery Joe’s, and participants can now enjoy free Starbucks coffee in line at Legion Field. Additionally, participants this week are receiving Chick-fil-A coupon cards, and next week participants will receive a $5-off coupon for UGA Dining Services retail collections. Other giveaways, including specially designed masks and T-shirts, are planned in the coming weeks.

The University Health Center also introduced pop-up, saliva-based testing locations across campus in conjunction with its longstanding partnership with the College of Pharmacy to deliver on-site flu vaccines.This week, pop-up locations are being offered at the University’s Health Sciences Campus and Facilities Management Division, and next week, they will be provided at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

This week’s White House Task Force on Coronavirus report noted that one in five Georgia college students have likely contracted the virus so far. 

The Athens-Clarke County cumulative numbers as of Wednesday, Oct. 14 are 5,399 confirmed positive cases, 236 hospitalizations and 46 deaths. ACC is showing a slight upward trend, with an average of 22 new cases per day over the past seven days, compared to 17 on Oct. 1. But that is far less than the peak of 144 in early September.

There have been no additional weekly updates made to the data on probable cases this week so far. As of last Wednesday, the Georgia Department of Public Health listed 791 probable cases for Athens-Clarke County and attributed most of those cases to rapid antigen testing results, which are not included in the official DPH figures. 

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