UGA faculty urge for COVID-19 precautions to safeguard Athens community

Dozens of faculty members at the University of Georgia are seeking more action to be taken in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

In a recent letter, they listed several requests for administrators to keep UGA infections from spilling over into the local community.

The letter also urges students and faculty to take steps that'll protect people living in the surrounding area such as always wearing a mask, getting tested, and creating a flexible framework that allows for successful virtual learning.

The Athens-Clarke County community has a high number of people who are vulnerable to the virus.

"Socially distancing at all times is a small price to pay to avoid infecting a community that has a very high poverty rate," Professor David Bradford explained.

Bradford is one of the 27 members of the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia to sign the two-page letter.

To better protect the local Athens community, they're asking the university to implement large-scale mandatory and random testing, conduct its own contact tracing regime, have adequate quarantine housing, and share it's testing data daily.

"It's our view that UGA as a collective,  both as administrators, faculty, staff, and students, have not taken the local community's needs as much into accounts as we should," Bradford told FOX 5's Brian Hill.

The institution does offer on-campus testing, provide quarantine housing, and share the data collected online weekly.

The university said cases of COVID-19 have declined sharply for the second week in a row, with on-campus testing reaching a new high.

UGA's president calls the decline encouraging.

"My impression from the data is things are not getting worse. Though I don’t think we yet have evidence that they are getting much better," Braford, the George D. Busbee Chair in Public Policy, Public Administration and Policy, detailed.

It's a concern he worries will harm the university's relationship with the city.

"The progress that we have made over the past couple of decades at improving what's often referred to as the town-gown relationship, those are difficult relationships to maintain in the best of situations and I worry that we're hurting them now," he described.

The university has reported nearly 3,300 cases since early August.

They said any student or employee with a positive COVID-19 test is required to report it.

You can read the full statement below:

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