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:
Following President Paxson’s communication earlier this week on planning for the fall and the decision that Brown will require COVID-19 vaccines for all undergraduate, graduate and medical students who will be on campus or engage in any level of in-person instruction in Fall 2021, we have received a number of questions regarding what that requirement means for international students. We understand that there is varying access to the vaccine across the country and the world, and the University’s COVID-19 Vaccine Working Group is exploring these questions. We also understand that there may be implications for travel and/or other contingencies that require advance planning to meet the vaccination requirements. Our public health experts tell us that, barring unforeseen circumstances, by late summer/early fall the supply of COVID-19 vaccine will have increased substantially in comparison to current supply levels. As a result, it is our expectation that those students who are unable to access the COVID-19 vaccine prior to arrival, especially international students, will be able to get vaccinated in Rhode Island when they arrive. University Health Services will provide students with additional details regarding the implementation of the vaccination requirements, including guidance for students who may have received a vaccine that is not approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, over the summer.
If you live, work or study in Rhode Island, you can get the vaccine here when your age group becomes eligible. The State of Rhode Island has launched a Vaccine Interest Notification List to notify you when you are eligible for vaccination and when a vaccination appointment opens for you. You can register at https://portal.ri.gov/. More information about vaccinations in Rhode Island can be found at: https://covid.ri.gov/vaccination.
At Brown, since launching our routine testing program for the fall term on Aug. 24, we have conducted 342,601 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 10,625 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 542 (up 16 this week from a total of 526 last week) — a prevalence rate of 5.1%.
Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, April 1, through Wednesday, April 7:
-- There have been 16 positive asymptomatic test results: 3 from employees, 7 from on-campus students and 6 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 0.12%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate was 0.10%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period was 2.73%.
-- The average turnaround time for asymptomatic test results during this period was approximately 17 hours.
-- University Health Services (UHS) conducted 22 symptomatic tests of students. Of these, less than 5 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 about 8.
-- 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 [email protected] to make that change. Faculty and staff can email [email protected] 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, [email protected]), and faculty and staff can contact the employee testing support team (401-368-4828, [email protected]).
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy