ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – A member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force said its concerned about pockets across the country where COVID-19 has reached dangerous levels, including here in Georgia.

Seema Verma – a member and the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid – spoke with CBS46 over a continual increase in cases at the University of Georgia.

On Wednesday, UGA reported 1,417 positive cases for the week of Aug. 31 – Sept. 4 – including 1,402 students.

The numbers were a significant increase from last Wednesday’s report of 919 cases.

The campus in Athens has around 50,000 students, faculty and staff – and since the pandemic has reported 3,045 COVID-19 cases.

In the last couple of weeks, the university issued a statement encouraging students and employees to mask up – but Kate Skeean, junior and chief photographer for the student-run newspaper, Red and Black, said that’s not enough.

“A statement just saying please keep wearing your masks is not really answer. What's going to happen if this keeps happening?” she said.

Skeean has been covering the spread of the virus on campus and said students are growing increasingly concerned about their safety. She said she sees a majority of students trying to follow coronavirus protocol.

“What I've been seeing is a lot of students are taking it seriously but there are those groups that are not, that are partying. We get a lot of photos and videos of parties,” she said.

Justin Simpson, co-chair of the UGA chapter of the United Campus Workers, said employees are just as concerned.

In July, UGA housing worker, Ana Cabrera Lopez died from the virus.

“Once you start hearing about the death of Ana, we have to realize something is not in place,” said Simpson. “There’s gaps in the system, weak points that are allowing COVID to invest people and this is unsatisfactory.”

Verma told CBS46 the White House coronavirus task force will be monitoring Athens very closely over the next couple of weeks, to see if the Labor Day holiday causes a spike in cases.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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