The University of Georgia saw an increase in new COVID-19 cases last week. The data comes from self-reported results via DawgCheck, although the university has said it reconciles DawgCheck reports with the test results from its surveillance testing program and UHC testing.
From Oct. 5-11, there were 92 coronavirus cases reported within the UGA community, including 80 students and 12 employees. This is an increase from 68 reported for the week of Sept. 28. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 3,964 total COVID-19 cases, including 3,507 since Aug. 10, when UGA launched its surveillance testing program.
Of the 92 cases reported this week, 28 were from UGA’s surveillance testing program, 11 were from the UHC’s testing program, 14 were from Athens-Clarke County and local community testing sources and the remaining 39 were from the “Other” category, which includes cases from testing sites both inside and outside ACC.
The university conducted 1,944 surveillance tests on asymptomatic volunteers in the UGA community from Oct 5-9. This is a large improvement from Sept. 28-Oct. 2, when the university conducted only 1,365 surveillance tests.
Over the month of September, the university invited 1,500 random students who live on-campus to participate in the surveillance testing program. Of those, only 323 were tested, and 15 tested positive. The positivity rate was 4.6% among these students. The university also randomly invited 600 students who live off-campus. Of the 600, 102 were tested, and 8 tested positive, leading to a positivity rate of 7.8%. These results were included in UGA’s weekly updates.
Random sampling can help identify how widespread the virus is in the general UGA population. While the sample of students UGA contacted to participate was random, the sample of students who received a test was not because students could choose to opt-in.
UGA began offering incentives for those who participate in its testing program on Oct. 8. The increase in testing may reflect that these incentives are working, although they would only impact the final two days of testing. The university also offered a pop-up COVID-19 surveillance testing site on the West Lawn of the Tate Student Center on Oct. 7.
In an email on Oct. 14, UGA announced new incentives to participate in its surveillance testing program. The university said it plans to give participants this week a Chick-fil-A coupon and next week's participant's a $5 coupon for UGA Dining Services retail locations. UGA also said it would hold free, walk-in, asymptomatic testing from 9 a.m.-12.p.m. at George Hall on the Health Siences Campus on Oct. 15 and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Mahler Hall at the Georgia Center on Oct. 20.
Out of the 1,944 tests, there were 1,513 conducted on students, 240 on staff and 191 on faculty.Students accounted for all 28 positive surveillance tests.The surveillance testing program’s positivity rate — which measures the percentage of tests that are positive — was 1.44% during the week of Oct. 5, slightly higher than the 1.17% positivity rate during the week of Sept. 28. This is the first time the surveillance testing program’s positivity rate has increased since the week of Aug. 31. The positivity rate among asymptomatic students was 1.85%.
The UHC conducted tests on 155 students who reported that they exhibited symptoms. Of those, 11 tested positive, and the UHC positivity rate fell to 7.10%.
UGA sends out a survey to students who tested positive 14 days after their report to DawgCheck. For the week of Sept. 21-27, only 17 out of 65 students responded to the survey. None of the respondents were hospitalized, and the asymptomatic rate was 71% — higher than in previous weeks. The recovery rate among students who once exhibited symptoms was 80%, which was lower than the 93% recovery rate for the week of Sept. 14-20. However, both the asymptomatic rate and the recovery rate should be treated with caution because the sample size is so small — there were only five symptomatic student respondents.