Coronavirus update 2.0 UGA

On Wednesday, the University of Georgia reported 71 new COVID-19 cases for the week of Nov. 23-29, down from the 101 cases from Nov. 16-22. The Thanksgiving holiday may have contributed to the decline by making it harder to get tested or slowing reporting. Since the start of the pandemic, the university has reported 4,579 cases, including 4,122 cases since Aug. 10.

Of the 71 cases reported this week, 17 were from UGA’s surveillance testing program for volunteers without symptoms, 17 were from the University Health Center’s testing program primarily for students with symptoms, seven were from Athens and local testing sites and the remaining 30 were from the “Other” category, which includes positive tests both inside and outside of Athens. In total, 53 students and 18 employees tested positive.

The university conducted 2,138 surveillance tests last week, down significantly from its peak of 5,116 tests from Nov. 16-20. However, this is mostly because the university last week only conducted surveillance testing on Monday and Tuesday.

The positivity rate from surveillance testing was 0.80%, the third straight week that the surveillance positivity rate has remained below 1%. Among student participants, the positivity rate was roughly the same at 0.84%.

The rate of surveillance testing will likely decline in the coming weeks. UGA had temporarily increased its surveillance testing capacity to 1,000 tests per weekday before the Thanksgiving holiday. Following the Thanksgiving holiday, the amount of UGA faculty, students and staff who get a COVID-19 test at the surveillance site could decline again because students might have left Athens since in-person classes have finished for the semester.

The UHC conducted 217 tests for the week of November 23. Of those, 17 were positive, resulting in a positivity rate of 7.8%. The positivity rate from UHC testing is expected to be higher than the positivity rate from surveillance testing because UHC testing focuses on symptomatic students, who are more likely to be infected than asymptomatic volunteers.