January 22, 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: 01/14/21 - 01/20/21


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:


While we continue to see community members testing positive for the virus, the number of positive tests is quite a bit lower this week than last. Last week we reported 40 asymptomatic positives on a total volume of 9,446 tests. This week we had 20 positives on 12,222 tests. That is an indicator of the good work of students, faculty and staff following public health guidelines, observing the Quiet Period, participating in the testing program, and generally taking steps to reduce exposure and the risk of spread. Adhering to each of these important steps in the weeks ahead will be critical to the success of the spring term.

As a reminder,  Brown continues to require a quarantine period of 14 days (from the date of last known exposure) for any student, faculty or staff member who may have been exposed to COVID-19, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While some local health departments have chosen to allow shorter quarantine periods, the 14-day timeframe continues to align with the underlying science regarding length of infectious periods and risk of spread. For more information and a detailed explanation of the rationale for this policy, please see the related FAQ under the Test Results section of the Testing and Tracing FAQ page:


At Brown, since launching our routine testing program for the fall term on Aug. 24, we have conducted 183,381 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 10,098 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 298 (up 20 this week from a total of 278 last week) — a prevalence rate of 3.0%.

Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, Jan. 14, through Wednesday, Jan. 20:

-- There have been 20 positive asymptomatic test results: 5 from employees, 11 from on-campus students and 4 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 0.22%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate was 0.16%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period was 5.46%.

-- The average turnaround time for asymptomatic test results during this period was 19 hours.

-- University Health Services conducted 26 symptomatic tests of students. Of these, none were 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 12.

-- 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