COVID-19 slithers through university campuses in 2-state region

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 6:16 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Since opening their campuses, the largest universities in the two-state region are seeing hundreds of new COVID-19 cases. But school officials are prepared to mitigate the spread.

The University of Georgia reported more than 1,400 in the past week alone.

Across the river at the University of South Carolina, more than 500 active cases with some sorority and fraternity houses still under quarantine.

School officials say it’s a real concern if these numbers do rise, but they are more than prepared.

UGA has seen more than 3,000 and USC has almost 2,000. But some of our local schools say they are more than prepared for a surge in cases.

“Our mitigation policy is really extremely thorough," said Dr. Thayer McGahee, dean of the School of Nursing.

Mitigation policies are guidelines universities follow to keep students safe.

USC Aiken has four levels. Right now, they’re in the green with only nine cases. For the school to fully shut down, it would have to get to the red level with 15 percent of students infected.

“The administration, the leadership could decide if we got to 10 percent that we have to take all these other things into consideration other than cases," McGahee said.

USC Aiken will continue to use isolation rooms, educate, and hold students responsible.

Meanwhile in Augusta ...

“Well we’re concerned already,” said Dr. Rodger MacArthur, professor of medicine at AU.

Augusta University officials say if cases rise ...

“Don’t come to class, tell them to report to student health, get tested and socially distance, and stay at home,” MacArthur said.

If students can follow that, they are confident they will stay open.

“I don’t think it will happen, we have a lot of individuals who have put in a lot of time and thought into making the learning environment very, very safe,” MacArthur said.

School leaders think they can fight this with one simple message.

“People really need to just be responsible.”

And Macarthur says that this virus will be active for awhile, but he did say he believes we are starting to get it under control now.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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