It has been a little under a month since COVID-19 was first recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Around the world, people from all walks of life have been asked to adapt to a new lifestyle—one of constant change and social distancing.
Despite the upheaval, the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and its units continue to make daily contributions to the fight against COVID-19 providing vital equipment, research expertise, and continued care to our community’s animals. The Veterinary Teaching Hospital has remained open, operating on an emergency-only basis, with our faculty and staff providing care for more than 575 patients since March 16. Likewise, our Diagnostic Laboratories in Tifton and Athens, our Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center (PDRC), and our other affiliated laboratories continue to provide critical services that ensure the health of our animal companions and safeguard the food supply both around the globe and here at home. The labs remain ready to jump into action for human testing if requested.
Additionally, researchers in the College have been engaged by Governor Brian P. Kemp’s task force to perform research on COVID-19, develop testing protocols, and test the vaccines that might one day make this virus a threat of the past. Eleven researchers from across the College—including the Center for Vaccines and Immunology and four different academic departments—are actively engaged in projects related to the virus. This research is being conducted in the College’s Animal Health Research Center in conjunction with universities around the state.
The College has also donated equipment to various hospitals and testing services around the state. The College’s single human-appropriate ventilator is currently at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center. Likewise, vital testing equipment and reagents have been donated to Emory University and Georgia State University and personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks, has been donated to the state for distribution as needed.
The mission of the College is to create a healthier world for animals and humans. In the face of adversity, the College has stepped up and stayed the course—in their own way contributing to the cause during these unprecedented times. Dean Lisa K. Nolan summed it up nicely in a recent email: “We do what we do because we provide certain services no one else in the state can and because our clients and referring veterinarians count on us being here, supporting them.”