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Thursday, September 03, 2020

UGA COVID numbers skyrocket in first week of classes on campus - News - Athens Banner-Herald - Athens, GA

UGA COVID numbers skyrocket in first week of classes on campus

"The number of University of Georgia students testing positive for COVID-19 sharply increased to nearly 800 over the past week, the university revealed Wednesday. In addition to 798 students, 19 staff and four faculty members reported having COVID through the university’s "DawgCheck" reporting system between Aug. 24-30.

UGA has been reporting its COVID numbers weekly for three weeks now, and each week so far has showed a steep increase in COVID cases. The most recent report time period is the first full week of UGA classes. UGA’s first day was Aug. 20.

During that same time period, COVID cases have been increasing in Clarke County, while much of the state is showing slight declines.

The Georgia Department of Public Health added 506 COVID cases in a week for Clarke County in the previous week, 154 on Monday, Oconee County citizen journalist Lee Becker wrote in his Oconee County Observations Tuesday.

According to Wednesday’s DPH COVID-19 daily status report, Clarke has recorded 3,149 cases of COVID-19, 172 hospitalizations and 30 deaths during the pandemic.

The Department of Public Health, in Tuesday’s Daily Status Report, listed 10 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the Northeast Health District, a record number for a single day, with four of those deaths in Athens-Clarke County.

The data comes from four sources in UGA’s reporting system: tests conducted through UGA’s surveillance testing programs, aimed at asymptomatic students and workers; tests done at the UGA University Health Center for people showing symptoms of COVID; reports from medical providers; and other sources.

In a press release, UGA called into doubt the accuracy of the "other" category, by far the largest category with 412 cases.

"The University has no way to validate the majority of these reports or the quality of those unknown testing sites but is reporting them as submitted," according to the UGA press release.

Numbers were up sharply at UGA’s surveillance testing site and at the health center as well. At the health center, 186 students yielded COVID-positive results, more than four times the previous week’s 38.

At the surveillance site at UGA’s Legion Field, 1,810 tests during the week yielded a total of 97 positive tests - a positivity rate of 5.4 percent, more than twice the previous week’s rate. All but two of the 97 positive cases in the surveillance testing were students.

The numbers could be an underestimate of the extent of COVID on campus. Some students have reportedly used parents’ addresses when being tested, so their cases would be recorded as in their home counties. Rumors on social media allege some Greek organizations are declining to report positive test results.

If the surveillance rate is indicative, nearly 2,000 UGA students may be positive, but UGA’s surveillance is too small to extrapolate to the entire UGA community.

Reports on social media also claim UGA has run out of quarantine space in student resident halls and is now using the Georgia Center for Continuing Education hotel for quarantines.

The university released information Wednesday confirming it is using alternate spaces for expanded quarantine capacity."
UGA COVID numbers skyrocket in first week of classes on campus - News - Athens Banner-Herald - Athens, GA

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