SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The White House coronavirus task force is releasing its latest recommendations to help Georgia stop the spread of COVID-19. The report is shedding light on increased exposure on college campuses.
The latest report says the state of Georgia is making progress with decreasing COVID-19 cases. The report lists 11 recommendations, most of them highly critical of the potential spread of the virus at universities.
“As we expected right after students came back we saw a spike in cases, but its been dropping drastically over the weeks since,” Georgia Southern University Spokesman, John Lester said.
Lester said Georgia Southern has seen a decline in cases for three consecutive weeks and adds that Georgia Southern students are doing their part to stop the spread of the virus.
“Their actions can affect a lot of other audiences and so we want to make sure everybody’s aware of that and for the most part we’re thrilled with how the students have been reacting,” Lester said.
The task force has recommended increasing testing on campus, expanding contact tracing, and isolating sick students.
Lester and Interim President at Savannah State University Kimberly Ballard-Washington say they’ve already implemented these suggestions before this report came out. COVID-19 cases are also seeing a decline on SSU’s campus.
“Last week we opened up testing substantially so that now any member of our university community who wants to receive a test on campus can,” Ballard-Washington said.
Right now, Georgia Southern is limiting testing to student-athletes. Staff and students who want to be tested need to have symptoms. The university is also doing its own contact tracing through volunteers.
“If they need to be in isolation or quarantine we’ll let the faculty know. We’ll make sure that anybody that’s a close contact around them has been notified and so it kicks in a process that’s designed to keep them and the community safe,” Lester said.
Both schools acknowledge that part of the college experience is what happens outside of the classroom. To continue to see the state make positive gains they’re hopeful their students will make the right decisions.
“They want to be here throughout the semester so they are working diligently with each other to make sure that we can keep our environment safe,” Ballard-Washington said.
The report also says over the past five weeks Georgia has decreased the number of counties in the red zone. The red zone indicates more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people. Georgia has the 14th highest rate in the country.