Dr. Garth Russo, Executive Director of the University Health Center (Chair)
Dr. Marsha Davis, Dean of the College of Public Health
Dr. Lisa Nolan, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Shelley Nuss, Campus Dean of the AU/UGA Medical Partnership
It has been a long and challenging semester, and all of us are looking forward to some well-deserved rest and relaxation over the Thanksgiving holiday. Whether you are staying here in Athens, heading home for the remainder of the Fall Semester or planning to return to Athens after the Thanksgiving Break, you should be aware of the resources that UGA is offering to help keep you—and those you love—safe and healthy this holiday season.
Get a free COVID-19 test The most important thing you need to know is whether you are virus-free. The most effective way to determine that is to have a negative COVID-19 test before leaving campus. The University of Georgia is increasing the capacity of its surveillance testing program to 1,000 participants per day for the two-week period from November 9 – 20. This total will consist of 750 nasopharyngeal tests to be administered at the Legion Field site and 250 saliva-based tests to be administered through three pop-up sites (with precise locations TBD).
While most test results are received within 24 – 48 hours, results can occasionally take up to 72 hours. Therefore, we recommend that you get tested on or prior to Friday, November 20 to ensure that you will have your results before Wednesday, November 25. This is particularly important if you are traveling.
As an added incentive, those who are tested during this period will receive new “Georgia Strong/Dawg Strong” face coverings, as well as coupons for on-campus retail locations and the UGA Bookstore.
Surveillance testing for faculty, staff, and students will continue through Tuesday, November 24, and will resume on Monday, November 30 for the remainder of the semester. Note that the surveillance testing site will be closed on Wednesday, November 25. We anticipate that demand for testing will decline during December, but for those who remain in the local community, surveillance continues to be a critical service that requires consistent support. Our asymptomatic tests are free and can be scheduled through the following website: https://clia.vetview.vet.uga.edu/. In addition, walk-up appointments can usually be accommodated.
The University Health Center (UHC) will continue to provide clinical care for students with symptoms as its primary focus, and, as clinical demand allows, UHC will also accommodate testing for asymptomatic students by appointment.
If you test positive If you receive a positive test result, you will need to isolate in accordance with CDC guidelines. You should not travel. The University of Georgia has set aside nearly 500 rooms to accommodate students from residence halls who need to isolate after testing positive or quarantine after being exposed through a close contact. Upon receiving notification of such cases from DawgCheck, members of the Student Care and Outreach team will reach out to each student to help coordinate housing, food delivery, contact with professors, and other needs. Service to students in quarantine and isolation will continue over the Thanksgiving Break and for the remainder of the Fall Semester.
Plan your Thanksgiving trip carefully Beginning now, plan your Thanksgiving travel carefully.
Review any local public health regulations that might apply where you are traveling.
If you are traveling by air, understand the testing requirements that will be required by the airline and/or your destination.
We recommend being tested through the UGA surveillance program four days prior to your flight. Some airlines require testing within 24 hours, so re-check air travel requirements frequently.
Consider two weeks of self-quarantine prior to travel to protect those you are going to visit over the holidays, particularly if you are visiting those who are ill or vulnerable to COVID-19.
At the very least, self-quarantine after your COVID-19 test to minimize exposure and the chance of infection. The CDC recently revised the definition of close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
Reduce the number of stops on your trip, take a direct flight, and if driving, pack food/snacks for the car.
Remain vigilant with social distancing and wear your face covering.
Use hand sanitizer liberally on your hands and on touchable surfaces, particularly if you are using any public transit.
Once you are home Your first 14 days at home are very important. Consider self-quarantine: i.e., use a separate bathroom if possible; do not share utensils, glasses or plates; and, as hard as it may seem, avoid hugging and kissing parents, grandparents and other relatives and friends, especially those who may have predisposing conditions. Ask your family to consider putting HEPA filter units in your home; if that’s not possible, increase the exchange of air by opening windows, weather permitting. Restrict your movement in public spaces outside of the home. This is particularly applicable to the large gatherings in confined spaces common to holiday celebrations and break periods. Remember that the practical guidance that has kept you safe on campus will keep you safe while at home.
While the steps above are primarily for your loved ones, you also need to take care of yourself, particularly as we enter the stressful period of final exams. Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Don’t forget: we are here for you, and most of the services offered by the UHC are available to students through a telehealth visit, including those for mental/ behavioral health.
We want to emphasize the need to keep using the DawgCheck tool to stay on top of any potential COVID-19 symptoms. Should symptoms arise, you can call the UHC for guidance—no matter where you are—or consult your local Primary Care Physician.
In closing, thank you for the extraordinary efforts you have made this semester to protect yourself and your fellow community members from COVID-19. Thank you for doing your part to follow social distancing guidelines, wear your face covering, and practice good hand hygiene. We have learned a great deal this semester about how to persevere through a pandemic. When we return in January, we will do it again—but this time, with experience behind us. We will provide details to you soon on our testing plan to facilitate our safe return for the Spring Semester. Until then, continue to make wise choices to keep you, your loved ones, friends and colleagues safe, and stay Georgia Strong/Dawg Strong.