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:
The number of asymptomatic positive test results -- 10 -- is the same as last week, although the University conducted about 15% more tests (4,112 compared to 3,576). Over the next couple of weeks, the number of tests being conducted will increase substantially as students fully return for the fall semester -- as that happens, we expect and are prepared for an increase in community members testing positive. This is not and should not be seen as cause for alarm. The increase in positive test results we are seeing is consistent with what we expect given the presence of the Delta variant in Rhode Island, and the positivity rate on campus continues to be well below the state positivity rate. Additionally, we are not seeing incidents of serious illness among our community members (in general, individuals who test positive have remained asymptomatic), nor do we have any indication of community spread or connection between cases on campus. The very high vaccination rates of Brown students, faculty and staff, the public health measures we have in place -- including routine testing and mask-wearing indoors -- and the diligence of community members in following the guidance are all contributing to the health and safety of the campus community. As we look forward to welcoming new students to Brown next week and opening the semester the week after, I would encourage all members of the community to adhere carefully to the public health rules in place but also to have confidence in our collective commitment to carry out a healthy and safe fall semester.
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 again distributing KN95 masks to Brown community members at the testing sites, beginning this week. Masks are in packages of 10 -- which will last most community members through the month of September -- and each student, faculty and staff member should take one package of masks following your next test (masks will be distributed at the testing site check-out locations). It is important to be familiar with and follow the CDC guidance on effective mask-wearing:
Looking ahead, the testing site at OMAC will continue operations through Tuesday, Sept. 7, and will then close at the end of that day. Beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 8, (the first day of classes), two new testing sites on College Hill will open in place of OMAC -- (1) Alumnae Hall, lower level (Pembroke Campus), 194 Meeting Street, and (2) Andrews House (across from Keeney Quadrangle, former location of Health Services), 13 Brown Street. Limited short-term parking while actively being tested is available behind Andrews House (enter from Charlesfield Street) for those who may need to drive to the site. The testing site in the Jewelry District at One Davol Square will continue as currently operating. Community members will see the two new College Hill sites available in the Verily web application for appointments to be scheduled on Sept. 8 and after, and you can schedule at whichever site is most convenient for you. Further information regarding the testing sites and operating hours can be found online at:
The percentage of total employees (faculty and staff) who have uploaded their vaccination cards is 95.1% (compared to 95.4% last week). The percentage of the total student population is 97.0% (up from 95.6% last week).
At Brown, since launching our routine testing program in August 2020, we have conducted 456,871 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 13,596 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 604 (up 10 this week from a total of 594 last week) -- a prevalence rate of 4.4%.
Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, Aug. 19, through Wednesday, Aug. 25:
-- 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 0.20%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate was 0.28%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period was 3.93%.
-- The average turnaround time for asymptomatic test results during this period was approximately 17 hours.
-- University Health Services (UHS) conducted 5 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 7.
-- 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 ([email protected]), and faculty and staff can contact the employee testing support team ([email protected]).
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy