August 20, 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: 08/12/21 - 08/18/21


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:

This week’s testing results do show an increase over last week — 10 asymptomatic positives compared to 5 last week. We did conduct more tests this week — 3,576 compared to 2,304 — and what we are seeing on campus is reflective of increased positivity in the broader community, driven largely by the Delta variant. The positivity rate on campus this past week (0.28%) remains well below the State of Rhode Island (4.17%) and there is no indication of community spread or connection between cases on campus. As we have stated previously, vaccination against COVID-19 remains highly effective, including against the Delta variant, and the most important thing we can do for our own health and the health of others is to get vaccinated. If you have not already done so, please upload your vaccination card. Detailed instructions are available on the Verify Your Vaccination page on the Healthy Brown website:

We are closely monitoring developments and evolving public guidance regarding booster shots. As stated in the University’s COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy, when and if boosters become available and recommended, the University will communicate at that time whether they are required or not. If booster vaccinations for COVID-19 are required by the University, employees and students will need to comply fully with that requirement.

We wanted to remind community members of the protocol in place when a student, faculty or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 during routine testing but has no symptoms. In those instances, Brown follows RIDOH and CDC guidance and requires that community members who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic self-isolate for a period of 10 days. The 10-day period applies regardless of vaccination status and cannot be shortened with a negative test. Students with asymptomatic positive test results will be contacted by University Health Services and given guidance and support regarding how and where to self-isolate for the 10-day period. Employees should contact their primary health care provider and University Human Resources at 401-386-4828 or Employees with a positive test result must remain away from campus until 10 days have passed since their positive test result.

We have also received inquiries regarding what social distancing rules are in effect at Brown. The primary way that COVID-19 spreads, especially among unvaccinated individuals, is through close contact. When social distancing is required, 6 feet of minimum distance should be maintained between individuals. The following social distancing standards, which have been confirmed by the Rhode Island Department of Health, should be followed by all individuals on the Brown campus:

-- Unvaccinated individuals indoors: Wear a mask and maintain a 6-foot distance from others at all times (especially when actively eating and drinking which requires removal of the mask).

-- Unvaccinated individuals outdoors: Maintain a 6-foot distance from others at all times; wear a mask if that is not possible.

-- Vaccinated individuals indoors: Wear a mask; social distancing is not required (but while actively eating and drinking, it is a good idea to distance as much as possible).

-- Vaccinated individuals outdoors: Masks and social distancing are not required.

The percentage of total employees (faculty and staff) who have uploaded their vaccination cards is 95.4% (up from 95.2% last week). The percentage of the total student population is 95.6% (up from 94.3% last week).

At Brown, since launching our routine testing program for the fall term on Aug. 24, we have conducted 452,205 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 13,143 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 594 (up 10 this week from a total of 584 last week) -- a prevalence rate of 4.5%.

Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, Aug. 12, through Wednesday, Aug. 18:

-- There have been 10 positive asymptomatic test results: 4 from employees and 6 from students. As a reminder, our student testing program includes undergraduate, graduate and medical students.

-- Over the past week, the employee asymptomatic positivity rate was 0.21%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate was 0.35%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period was 4.17%.

-- The average turnaround time for asymptomatic test results during this period was approximately 14 hours.

-- University Health Services (UHS) conducted 8 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 6.

-- 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.

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 (, and faculty and staff can contact the employee testing support team (


Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy