With over 4,700 positive tests reported at the University of Georgia during the fall 2020 semester, the upcoming spring semester brings new worries of contracting COVID-19 for a second time. UGA will continue to offer surveillance testing and require reporting a positive test result through DawgCheck, but it’s unclear whether it will be enough to limit the reinfection rate at the beginning of January as students return to Athens.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that while having antibodies can protect against reinfection from the virus, reinfection is rare but possible and expected.
“Whether you’ve had COVID-19 or not, you should continue to practice the three Ws: washing your hands, wearing a mask and watching your distance or social distancing,” said Dr. Thomas Wells, a physician at Piedmont Hawthorne Medical.
Wells said when returning from winter break for the spring semester, everyone should continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and self-evaluate for symptoms, even if you do not feel sick or have contracted COVID-19 in the past.
UGA spokesperson Greg Trevor said students should continue to practice healthy hygiene habits even if they have contracted COVID-19 previously.
Trevor said research suggests that immunity can last up to 90 days.
“No one is invincible from COVID-19,” Trevor said. “There is no conclusive evidence to indicate that immunity from a previous COVID-19 infection provides long-term protection from exposure or how severe a second case will be.”
Joseph Fleming, a sophomore from Atlanta, contracted COVID-19 during the fall semester. He said he does not plan to be more cautious next semester after previously contracting the virus.
Wells said it’s too early to determine the strength and length of immunity to make conclusions.
Students should be conscious of illnesses other than COVID-19, like the flu, when presenting symptoms, Wells said. However, when presenting any symptoms, you should always self-quarantine and schedule an appointment with a doctor.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article included a speculation about the length of immunity after contracting the coronavirus. There is not enough evidence to determine the strength and length of immunity after contracting the coronavirus.