January 15, 2021
Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey
Tags Undergraduates Grad and Medical Students Faculty and Staff

To the Brown Community: COVID-19 Testing Update: 01/07/21 - 01/13/21


Dear Brown Community Members,

Below, please find our weekly update on Brown’s testing program for COVID-19, with additional information and context to complement the data shared via our public dashboard:


As you will read below, we have seen a number of faculty, staff and students testing positive for the virus over the past week, driven in particular by the return of students for the Quiet Period leading into the spring term. All students returning to campus are tested immediately, and in the event of a positive test result, isolation and contact tracing takes place. This is the purpose of the testing program, and we appreciate the commitment of new and returning students, as well as faculty and staff, to fulfilling their testing commitments. 

While we have not seen any patterns or connections between positive cases that would indicate spread of the virus on campus, it is important for everyone to be vigilant with regard to mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing. Students in particular need to follow all of the rules and guidance governing the Quiet Period (https://healthy.brown.edu/prevention/quiet-period). Doing so is critical to our ability as a community to move toward more in-person engagement when health conditions allow, and to sustain a safe and healthy spring term.

At Brown, since launching our routine testing program for the fall term on Aug. 24, we have conducted 170,783 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 9,673 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 278 (up 40 this week from a total of 238 last week; note that last week’s reported total of 239 positive test results inadvertently included 1 asymptomatic positive that had been reported in a prior update) — a prevalence rate of 2.8%.

Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, Jan. 7, through Wednesday, Jan. 13:

-- There have been 40 positive asymptomatic test results: 10 from employees, 20 from on-campus students and 10 from off-campus students. As a reminder, our student testing program includes undergraduate, graduate and medical students.

-- Over the past week, the employee asymptomatic positivity rate was 0.31%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate was 0.52%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period was 6.25%.

-- The average turnaround time for asymptomatic test results during this period was 20 hours.

-- University Health Services conducted 17 symptomatic tests of students. Of these, less than 5 have been positive for COVID-19. Exact results for symptomatic students who are tested by UHS are not reported (and do not appear on the public dashboard) to protect the confidentiality of the small numbers of students who are tested. We will report on ranges and any concerns regarding trends in these weekly summaries. 

-- The University does not directly test symptomatic employees, as they receive health care from their individual providers. We do monitor employee absences due to COVID-19 — which can be for a range of reasons, including care of a child or family member or quarantine due to a known exposure — and the number of such absences for the most recent full work week was 22.

-- It is important to note that with regard to all positive cases, we have taken action consistent with our contact tracing protocols, COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy, isolation and quarantine procedures, and other measures outlined in Brown’s Plan for a Healthy and Safe 2020-21.

As a reminder, if you are currently being tested once a week and would like to change to twice a week, you are welcome to do so. Students can email studenttesting@brown.edu to make that change. Faculty and staff can email employeetestinguhr@brown.edu for guidance on how to increase their testing frequency.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. For questions or support regarding the testing program, students can contact the student testing support team (401-863-6500, studenttesting@brown.edu), and faculty and staff can contact the employee testing support team (401-368-4828, employeetestinguhr@brown.edu). 


Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy