October 30, 2020
Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey
Tags Undergraduates Grad and Medical Students Faculty and Staff

To the Brown Community: COVID-19 Testing Update: 10/22 - 10/28


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:


As I wrote to the Brown community on Saturday, we have seen an increase in positive results over the past 10 days, which is reflective of the overall increasing positivity rates in Rhode Island. Following my Saturday update, when I reported 8 positive test results between Wednesday, Oct. 21, and Friday, Oct. 23, we have had 5 additional positive test results: 4 employees and 1 off-campus undergraduate. While the overall number of positive results at Brown remains very low, as you will see in the positivity rates reported below, it is an important reminder to continue to follow public health guidance to prevent the spread of the coronavirus:

-- As we have previously communicated, people should not, under any circumstance, have a Halloween party this weekend.

--Students in particular are also reminded that non-essential travel outside of Providence is strictly prohibited without permission, and all members of our community are strongly advised to abide by the travel quarantine restrictions of Rhode Island and other states.

-- Wear a mask whenever you are with other people beyond your immediate household or pod. Other than students in a pod, this means that all Brown community members must wear a mask at all times when you are on campus with other people. Wear your mask proactively — don’t wait for someone to approach you and then fumble to put your mask on properly. 

-- Continue to wash your hands, practice social distancing and get tested on your assigned frequency. If you have symptoms, stay home or in your room and seek medical advice by calling Health Services (for students) or a health professional. More information regarding how to stay safe and healthy is available at healthy.brown.edu.

At Brown, since launching our routine testing program for the fall term on Aug. 24, we have conducted 87,567 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 7,542 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 41 (up 12 from last week’s update) — a prevalence rate of 0.5%.

Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, Oct. 22, through Wednesday, Oct. 28:

-- There have been 12 positive asymptomatic test results: 6 employees, 2 on-campus students and 4 off-campus students (note that one of the 8 positive tests results reported in Saturday’s message was from Wednesday of that week and was reported in last Friday’s weekly testing update). As a reminder, our student testing program includes undergraduate, graduate and medical students.

-- The employee asymptomatic positivity rate has been 0.20%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate has been 0.07%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period has been 3.44%.

-- The average turnaround time for asymptomatic test results during this period has been 25 hours.

-- University Health Services conducted 26 symptomatic tests of students. Of these, less than five have been 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 5.

-- 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.

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 employeetestinguhr@brown.edu, and students can email studenttesting@brown.edu 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, studenttesting@brown.edu), and faculty and staff can contact the employee testing support team (employeetestinguhr@brown.edu). 


Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy