March 12, 2021
Russell C. Carey, ​Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy
Tags Undergraduates Grad and Medical Students Faculty and Staff

To the Brown Community: COVID-19 Testing Update: 03/4/21 - 03/10/21


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:

Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine continues to pick up speed in Rhode Island. While the University does not currently have access to provide vaccinations directly (those supplies are controlled by the State) we are strongly encouraging students, faculty and staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when they become eligible and to stay informed about the vaccines by learning about their safety, effectiveness and availability. Information on how to do so can be found here:

The State has notified colleges and universities in Rhode Island that they are seeing some instances of students attempting to register for vaccination appointments through the congregate care eligibility criteria. Please note that in Rhode Island, congregate settings do not include residence halls, and are limited to nursing homes, group homes or other similar settings that serve as housing for those at higher risk for serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19. The State has asked that we remind students, and others, to wait until they become eligible to register for an appointment. Information about eligibility categories can be found here:

At Brown, since launching our routine testing program for the fall term on Aug. 24, we have conducted 285,075 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 10,497 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 444 (up 22 this week from a total of 422 last week) — a prevalence rate of 4.2%.

Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, March 4, through Wednesday, March 10:

-- There have been 22 positive asymptomatic test results: 2 from employees, 10 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 0.06%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate was 0.17%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period was 2.30%.

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

-- University Health Services (UHS) conducted 25 symptomatic tests of students. Of these, less than 5 were positive for COVID-19. Also, we need to correct last week’s report, which stated that UHS conducted 64 symptomatic tests of students and of those, between 10 and 15 were positive for COVID-19. The correct number of tests performed last week was 67, and the range of positive results was, as reported, between 10 and 15. 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 4.

-- 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 to make that change. Faculty and staff can email 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,, and faculty and staff can contact the employee testing support team (401-368-4828, 


Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy