Clarke County

UGA reports 800+ COVID-19 cases on campus, expert says real number could be more than 3 times that

ATHENS, Ga. — Students at the University of Georgia are going to class knowing there are hundreds of new COVID-19 cases that were reported in just the past week.

Officials reported 821 positive tests for the virus for the period of Aug. 24-30. Of those, 798 were students.

On Wednesday, UGA quarterback Jamie Newman opted out of playing the 2020 season, citing fears over the virus.

Channel 2 anchor Jovita Moore spoke with Dr. Mark Ebell, an epidemiology professor at UGA, about what the growing case count could mean for students and the future of in-person learning.

“I am just not sure that being face to face is helpful or even necessary at this point,” Ebell said.

He called the new COVID-19 numbers on campus very concerning.


Last week, the university reported 821 new cases compared to 189 the week before.

“Those are the people who had cough, fever and knew they were sick and reported the disease, or who were detected by testing at the university health center,” Ebell said.

The epidemiologist told Moore that he is also concerned about asymptomatic cases. He believes that based on test data, another 2,000 students could be on campus right now with COVID-19 but show no symptoms.

He’s also worried about students heading home for the long holiday weekend.

“I am really concern about their families’ elderly members of the family. They have a barbecue. The students not knowing they are infected. They feel fine and are spreading it to others,” Ebell said.

He said based on testing data of asymptomatic students who come back positive, soon half of the students in a class could have COVID-19.

“Last week it was 6.2%. The week before it was 3.3%. So we see that surveillance testing that the disease is spreading and relatively rapidly,” Ebell said.

The University of Georgia community has nearly 50,000 students, faculty and staff. The university stated it is randomly selecting 300 students a week to get tested in addition to the ones who show symptoms.

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