Members of the Brown Community:
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 very low positivity rates at Brown, as you are likely aware there are concerns regarding rising cases and hospitalizations in Rhode Island, as well as other regions of the country. Governor Raimondo has reported that the state is seeing a pattern of cases from small gatherings of family and friends — people who are complying with the gathering size limit but are not wearing masks or socially distancing when gathering with those who don’t live in their household. She has reminded Rhode Islanders — and this is essential information for everyone at Brown — that we need to be wearing masks more often. Anytime you are with people who you don't live with or who are not in your pod, please wear a mask.
In addition, Governor Raimondo made clear that people should not, under any circumstance, have a Halloween party. She also encouraged Rhode Islanders to stay local during Thanksgiving and avoid travel. The latter advice does not apply to students who leave campus at the Thanksgiving break and do not return this semester, but for all others it is prudent guidance as we anticipate the holidays. Further health information and guidance from the state can be found here at https://health.ri.gov/covid/.
At Brown, since launching our routine testing program for the fall term on Aug. 24, we have conducted 76,363 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 7,466 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 29 (up two from last week’s update) — a prevalence rate of 0.4%.
Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, Oct. 15, through Wednesday, Oct. 21:
-- There have been 2 positive asymptomatic test results, both employees. There were no positive asymptomatic test results among on-campus or off-campus students.
-- The employee asymptomatic positivity rate has been 0.07%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate has been 0.00%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period has been 2.42%.
-- The average turnaround time for asymptomatic test results during this period has been 28 hours.
-- University Health Services conducted 23 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 is 1.
-- It is important to note that with regard to all positive cases, we have taken action in line 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.
We have received limited reports of phishing emails that look like they are from Verily (our testing program vendor) asking for personal information. While these reports have not been widespread, we encourage all community members to follow safe practices and not respond to testing emails that are not from Verily (usually firstname.lastname@example.org) or from Brown. You can find additional guidance in the following post from CIS: https://it.brown.edu/alerts/read/phony-request-update-verily-profile.
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. Faculty and staff can email email@example.com, and students can email firstname.lastname@example.org to make that change.
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@example.com), and faculty and staff can contact the employee testing support team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy