UGA to Increase Capacity of COVID-19 Surveillance Testing
Monday, September 14th, 2020
In an ongoing effort to enhance its COVID-19 testing program for asymptomatic individuals on campus, the University of Georgia is expanding the capacity of its voluntary testing program for faculty, staff and students. Effective today, September 8, availability of appointments for those who are not showing symptoms will increase from 360 to 450 per weekday.
The testing site is conveniently located in a central location at Legion Field, in close proximity to the first-year residence halls, and the tests are free to participants. Appointments are offered from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. each weekday and may be scheduled by contacting the University Health Center. UGA is one of only a few major universities in the state providing surveillance testing for its campus community.
“To expand our testing, we are now adding randomized cohorts to the pool,” said Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center and chair of UGA’s Medical Oversight Task Force. “This means we are inviting students in specific student populations to come and be tested. This week, we are carving out 60 more slots a day for students living in on-campus housing. Those students will sign up using a special registration code on a voluntary basis. At the beginning of each day, slots that are not taken will be offered to others in our campus community.”
For the last two weeks, approximately 85% of those tested have been students, appropriately reflecting the composition of the University community. Of the 50,000 faculty, staff and students who comprise the University population, approximately 39,000 are students.
The University employs an FDA-approved nasopharyngeal swab technique using PCR methodology—one of the most reliable forms of testing available. Through the collaboration of the University Health Center and Veterinary Diagnostic Lab to collect and analyze specimens, UGA is providing accurate test results to participants in 24-72 hours, far superior to the turn-arounds of many external labs.
“We are investing significant additional resources of personnel, robotics for the testing lab, and consumable supplies because we are committed to supporting the health and safety of our campus community,” said Provost Jack Hu, who is assisting the members of the Medical Oversight Task Force to coordinate the University’s testing program.
Surveillance testing is provided to those who are not reporting symptoms of the virus. Students who are symptomaticshould contact the University Health Center (UHC) for COVID-19 testing, while faculty and staff should contact their local health care provider, go to one of the many testing sites offered by the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH), or seek a test at a commercial site (e.g., pharmacy, urgent care center, etc.). Any positive COVID-19 test must be reported to the University through the DawgCheck notification tool.
Weekly results of UGA’s testing programs, as well as positive tests reported through other sources, are reported to the campus community at the University Health Center website.