As the first day of classes at the University of Georgia began after a week of students moving in, I participated in UGA’s asymptomatic COVID-19 testing program. UGA announced on July 22 that it plans to test 300 asymptomatic students, faculty and staff volunteers a day to track the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Here’s how my experience with the test went.
I scheduled a test using UGA’s testing portal. The testing site is at Legion Field, which is on South Lumpkin Street across from the Tate Student Center. No walk-ups are allowed, and anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can’t be tested here.
I logged in with MyID and registered. It took less than 10 minutes — I had to put in my address in Athens and verify that I didn’t have any symptoms. I didn’t have to put any insurance information. I chose my appointment date and time.
My appointment time was at 3 p.m. I showed up around five minutes early and was out by 3:02. The test was a nose swab — a nasopharyngeal test if you want to get technical — that went up both nostrils. The worker twisted the swab around for five seconds in each nostril. The testing site worker said it was supposed to be uncomfortable and shouldn’t hurt, but I thought it was painful. My eyes teared up (but they did give me a free pack of tissues!).
The testing site worker put the swab in a bag with my information on it, and I was done.
Results and reporting
I’ll get my test results in an email within 72 hours, according to UGA’s test registration website. Students are responsible for reporting a positive test through DawgCheck. Positives will be reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health, and contract tracing will begin.
The Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and the UHC COVID-19 testing lab report positive and negative tests to the DPH, according to Garth Russo, executive director of the UHC and a member of the workplace and health safety working group.
Reporting tests to the DPH is required by law, and it is part of the notifiable disease process that facilitates contact tracing, Russo said.
Contact tracing will be done by DPH workers and UGA case identifying team members, according to UGA’s test registration website. The worker compared contact tracing to notifying people after someone tests positive for a sexually transmitted disease. The people are notified they may have come in contact with someone with an STD — or in this case COVID-19 — but aren’t told who the person is.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the COVID-19 reporting process at UGA labs. Both the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and the UHC are required by law to report positive and negative tests to the DPH to facilitate contact tracing. The Red & Black regrets this error, and it has since been fixed.