COVID-19 Health and Exposure updates

COVID-19 Testing Data

Members of the University community undoubtedly have legitimate interests in information about the status and impact of the pandemic within our campus communities in Athens and elsewhere. At the same time, individual faculty, staff, and students have strong interests in the privacy of their own sensitive health information, and we are legally obligated to keep that information confidential. The University’s objective is to share relevant and reliable data to inform our campus community while also respecting individual privacy and preventing confusion.

The data presented in the graphs below are derived from reports received through Tuesday, October 6 and are based on testing dates. Survey-based reports received after Tuesday will be included in next week’s report.

UGA COVID-19 Surveillance Data (Legion Field)

With the reopening of campus starting August 10, 2020, at the recommendation of the University’s Medical Oversight Task Force, the University began conducting COVID-19 testing on campus to help identify individuals who do not have COVID-19 symptoms but who may spread the virus to others. This type of testing–called “surveillance testing”–focuses on asymptomatic members of the campus community and is voluntary and at no cost to participants. The plan calls for 24,000 tests to be conducted by Thanksgiving at a rate of up to 500 tests per day on samples collected from faculty, staff, and students who volunteer. The University Health Center is conducting the sampling at Legion Field, with specimen analysis to be performed by the Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Lab, which recently earned certification to process human samples.

UGA surveillance program activity will be presented as a weekly sum of tests performed and the positivity rate, which, for trending purposes, are presented longitudinally below. Data will be posted each Wednesday for the work week prior to accommodate the time needed to obtain and process results. Should test results from the current week be delayed beyond the cutoff time needed to prepare the data for presentation on Wednesday, it will be added in as part of the following week’s report attributed to the actual day of the testing. This means that historical data may vary. Date ranges are Monday-Friday to reflect that UGA's testing is done on weekdays.

Comments on Surveillance Test data for the week of October 5-12:

  • Overall volume reflects a significant rebound in numbers of tests done at Legion Field, and it is only 30 tests less than the highest week. This is significant in that there continues to be a declining trend across the region. Participation is most appreciated, as to keep our community safe, we must continue to support the surveillance project.

  • Participation by role is similar to previous weeks with 10% faculty, 12% staff, and 78% students. Data are presented by role to reflect this.

During the month of September, 1500 students living on-campus were randomly selected and invited to participate in testing at Legion Field. As of September 30th, 323 (22%) pursued testing, and 15 (4.6%) were positive. In addition, 600 students living off-campus were invited for testing, and of the 102 (17%) who pursued testing, 8 (7.8%) were positive. These tests are included in the weekly surveillance data totals reported graphically for Legion Field.

All students and employees are required to report positive test results through DawgCheck. Positive tests performed by the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) and the UHC are routinely reconciled with the surveys submitted to ensure this. Therefore, the surveillance data presented above is included in the total number of positive tests presented in the DawgCheck reporting that follows.

Positive COVID-19 Tests Reported Through DawgCheck

Also coinciding with the reopening of campus starting August 10, 2020, the University implemented a tool called DawgCheck (accessed through the UGA Mobile App or the DawgCheck mobile-friendly website) to give members of the campus community the ability to self-monitor and to facilitate information sharing internally and with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). While the symptom check is strongly encouraged, any student or employee with a positive COVID-19 test is required to report the test in DawgCheck.

The table below reflects the total number of positive test results reported through DawgCheck each week. It is updated every Wednesday. Please note the following:

  • Because all students and employees are required to report positive test results through DawgCheck, the totals below include positive test results from the surveillance testing program described above. Therefore, positive tests through surveillance testing reported above should not be added to the positive tests reported below to achieve a total number of positive tests.

  • Positive tests reported through DawgCheck are from any of the approximately 50,000 faculty, staff, and students connected to the University of Georgia, whether located in Athens, extended campuses, extension offices across the state, or even other states and countries for students who elected to take online classes. The totals may include reports from individuals who have not been on campus recently, there may be delays in reporting, and the totals may even include individuals who have recovered. Therefore, the data does not serve as an accurate barometer of the current status of COVID-19 at any point in time at any one of UGA’s campuses.

  • Since August 10, UGA has supported surveillance testing (Legion Field) for asymptomatic individuals and clinical (UHC) testing resources for symptomatic students as a means of distancing the two populations and optimizing the use of UHC staff and the facility. Therefore, because students are showing symptoms when they request a test at the UHC, it is expected that UHC’s tests would have a significantly higher positivity rate than would be the case for those who are asymptomatic when tested.

  • Of the 155 COVID-19 tests performed at the University Health Center for students reporting symptoms, 11 were positive and 144 were negative. The positivity rate declined to 7.0 percent.

  • For the week of October 5th, 60% of the tests in the “Other” category were performed in Clarke and adjoining counties and the rest were located elsewhere in the state. One student tested outside of the state. Two faculty reported positive tests.

  • It should be noted that data from surveys is presented by the date of the test as reported. Surveys that report tests done in prior weeks are attributed to their appropriate weekly totals. This means that historical data may vary.

  • Data presented for DawgCheck encompasses 7 days of reporting (Monday-Sunday), since positive cases may be entered into the system at any time.

 

DawgCheck COVID-19 Recovery Survey Data

In order to enhance support for students who report positive tests of COVID-19, the University has begun distributing a follow-up survey through the DawgCheck system to each student who reports a positive test for COVID-19. The DawgCheck system is automated to distribute the follow-up survey to students 14 days following their report of a positive test.

The self-reported information collected through the follow-up survey will be used by UGA’s Student Care and Outreach unit to provide an additional level of support to students who have ongoing concerns related to classes or other aspects of campus life. The information will also help the institution better understand public health trends related to the University community, including the impact of the virus on its student population.

The table below presents key metrics from the follow-up survey, organized by reporting week, beginning with the first week of classes. The table will be updated on Wednesday of each week.

Reporting Week Total Number of Positive Student Tests* Total Number of Follow-up Survey Responses by Students Student Response Rate to Follow-up Survey Hospitalization Rate among Student Respondents Asymptomatic Rate among Student Respondents Recovery Rate among Student Respondents who Exhibited Symptoms
8/17 - 8/23 176 67 38% 0% 21% 92%
8/24 - 8/30 901 357 40% 1% 13% 93%
8/31-9/6 1490 422 28% 0% 14% 92%
9/7-9/13 446 139 31% 0% 27% 93%
9/14-9/20 170 45 26% 0% 41% 93%
9/21-9/27 65 17 26% 0% 71% 80%
*Students included in these figures are those who reported to have received a positive test during the designated reporting week. These figures may vary slightly from week to week as data are continually updated. In addition, because of timing, these figures may not always match the totals reported in the graphs above.

Data Definitions

  • Total Number of Positive Student Cases: The total number of students who entered positive tests into the University’s DawgCheck system. These tests include those reported through the University Health Center, the Legion Field Surveillance Testing Site, and other testing sites.
  • Total Number of Follow-up Survey Responses: The total number of students who responded to the DawgCheck follow-up survey.
  • Hospitalization Rate among Student Respondents: Of the total number of student respondents, the percentage of students who answered “Yes” to the survey question, “Were you admitted to be treated in the hospital for 24 hours or longer as a result of your illness?”
  • Asymptomatic Rate among Student Respondents: Of the total number of student respondents, the percentage of student respondents who answered “No” to the survey question, “Did you ever exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., sore throat, fever, cough, etc.)?”
  • Recovery Rate among Student Respondents Who Exhibited Symptoms: Of the total number of student respondents who exhibited symptoms, the percentage of student respondents who answered “No” to the survey question, “Are you still exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., sore throat, fever, cough, etc.)?”

COVID-19 Information in Georgia

In addition to the data reported above, we encourage you to access the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (GDPH) website. The GDPH collects and posts data specific to all 159 Georgia counties on its Daily Status Report. You can scroll to the state map and hover over the desired county to see the latest information on count and trend lines.

When UGA learns of positive cases, they are reported to the GDPH in a timely manner and in the county where individuals are currently located. Therefore, the GDPH Daily Status Report provides members of our community an accurate and relevant assessment of the number of cases in the areas where they live and work.

Contact Tracing and Notifications

Guided by the Centers for Disease Control and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), the University of Georgia is following established protocols for contact investigation and notification of impacted individuals. Consistent with those protocols, DPH oversees contact tracing and notification of persons who have had close contact with individuals in question.

The University has established a more robust relationship with DPH as DPH has ramped up its resources, with identified liaisons between UGA and DPH to facilitate information sharing. Contact tracing by DPH is by facilitated by case identification done on campus through the DawgCheck survey tool. Precursor information provided through DawgCheck–e.g., names and contact information of others who might have been exposed— is reported in real-time to DPH.

If you are deemed by DPH to have increased risk because of exposure to these individuals, DPH has the responsibility to notify you. In many cases, affected individuals may reach out to other individuals personally to make them aware. Notifications of positive tests will continue to be provided on a local level within units at UGA, as warranted.

March 2020 to August 2020 Reopening

When the University moved classes online in March 2020 and first became aware that members of our community tested positive for COVID-19, the University Health Center began providing a daily update on total positive cases for UGA students and employees. This total included any positive tests reported to the Health Center for the more than 50,000 faculty, staff, and students connected to the University of Georgia, whether located in Athens, extended campuses, extension offices across the state, or even the hometowns of students across the country or abroad. Many of the infections included in this total were individuals who had not been on campus since the onset of the pandemic; there were often delays in reporting information to the Health Center; and a cumulative total necessarily includes individuals who have recovered. For these reasons, this cumulative total was never intended to serve as an accurate barometer of the current status of COVID-19 at UGA at any point in time.

Within these parameters, from March 2020 to the reopening that began August 10, 2020, the Health Center reported that a total of 457 UGA faculty, staff, and students across Georgia and beyond, not limited to Athens, tested positive for COVID-19. As referenced above, with the reopening of campus, the University implemented a new testing program and reporting protocols that allow more meaningful and reliable data sharing, consistent with privacy concerns.

Please respect individual privacy

Please do not publicly identify impacted individuals—even if you believe you or others know who they are — so they can focus completely on their health. As a community, we should support these individuals and one another through this incredibly difficult time, while respecting individual privacy.