Photo: Tony Walsh/UGA Sports
Photo: Tony Walsh/UGA Sports

Georgia Athletic Association staff member tests positive for coronavirus

A University of Georgia Athletic Association staff member tested positive for the coronavirus and is being treated at a local hospital, according to an internal email sent Wednesday.

Athletic director Greg McGarity told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he could not discuss the matter.

“I can’t comment on anything,” McGarity said. “The statement stands on its own. I’m not at liberty to discuss anything about it other than what's been announced by the University of Georgia.”

An university-wide email circulated by ArchNews, which is produced by UGA's marketing and communication office, “out of an abundance of caution” revealed to the school's employees that:

“A staff member who works in Athletics was confirmed this morning to have tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was last on campus on March 6, 2020. He is being treated in a local hospital.

“Another member of the Athletics Department who had contact with the individual is under self-quarantine at home with no symptoms at this time. 

“Health officials are taking precautionary measures to quickly identify cases of COVID-19 and take appropriate public health action to reduce its spread and protect the general public in identifying potential contacts.”

March 6 was the first day of UGA's spring break. McGarity said federal medical privacy laws such as HIPAA prevent Georgia from revealing the identity of this individual. 

UGA Athletics has been shut down as a result of a Southeastern Conference mandate that was issued last Thursday during the second day of the SEC men's basketball tournament in Nashville. At that time the league suspended play not only in that tournament, but in all of the conference's sports.

An original cessation period set until March 30 was since extended to April 15 and then, yesterday, extended again to include the entire semester. All games and practices have ceased and UGA students are now completing spring semester classwork online.

Also, any employees who traveled out of the country over spring break were also asked to “self-quarantine” for a period of 14 days. Football coach Kirby Smart is among Georgia's athletics employees who are known to be on self-quarantine. 

The UGA email also reviewed best hygiene practices for further prevention for COVID-19 respiratory virus, which has been deemed a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, which are:

• Adhere to social distancing practices and CDC guidance regarding groups and group activity.
• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

“While we understand the concerns and fear around COVID-19, it is extremely important to stay calm and maintain a close eye on your health and any symptoms that may arise. The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Most cases of COVID-19 are mild with symptoms similar to a cold.

“In addition, if you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and develop fever with cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19 and develop those symptoms, stay home and call your health care provider or local health department right away. Be sure to call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room, or urgent care center and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.”

On Tuesday, the IMG crew devoted to promoting UGA football sent out a video message to fans via the program's social media channels in the wake of the news that spring practice and the annual G-Day intrasquad game had been cancelled:

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