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:
Similar to what we reported last week, we have continued to see an increase in positive results. This is consistent with the general increase in positivity rates in Rhode Island as well as regionally and nationally, and the overall campus positivity rate remains quite low. Importantly, we have seen no evidence of virus spread on campus, and that reflects the continued excellent work of students, faculty and staff to closely follow public health guidance and best practices. Working together, we can maintain these low positivity rates over the two and a half weeks before the Thanksgiving break.
As we approach Thanksgiving, I want to remind Brown community members that Governor Raimondo has encouraged Rhode Islanders to stay local during the holiday weekend and avoid travel. While this advice does not apply to students who leave campus at the Thanksgiving break and do not return this semester, it is prudent guidance for all others as we anticipate the holidays. Brown community members should also be aware that Governor Raimondo has announced a stay at home advisory effective Sunday, Nov. 8, advising Rhode Islanders to be at home between 10 pm and 5 am on weeknights and from 10:30 pm to 5 am on Friday and Saturday nights (note that this does not apply to people going to work during these hours). Further health information and guidance from the state can be found at https://health.ri.gov/covid/.
For students in particular, if you leave the Providence area for the Thanksgiving break, the requirement is that you will not return to campus or to the Providence area and will finish the semester remotely. And, as Vice President Eric Estes recently communicated, if you test positive for COVID-19 in the two weeks before the Thanksgiving break or are exposed to someone who tests positive, you will be required to isolate or quarantine and will not be allowed to travel. Risky behavior that violates public health guidelines during this period could also endanger family at home if you return for the holidays, so please keep this in mind as you make healthy choices over the next two weeks.
A critically important healthy behavior is hand washing. Please remember to use the hand sanitizer provided at building entrances or wash hands for at least 20 seconds upon arrival to campus, throughout the day, and before you leave at the end of your workday for employees. Other times to wash hands include: after blowing one’s nose, coughing or sneezing; after using the restroom; and before eating or preparing food. Use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are inaccessible.
At Brown, since launching our routine testing program for the fall term on Aug. 24, we have conducted 98,571 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 7,579 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 57 (up 16 from last week’s update) — a prevalence rate of 0.7%.
Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, Oct. 29, through Wednesday, Nov. 4:
-- There have been 16 positive asymptomatic test results: 9 employees, 1 on-campus student and 6 off-campus students. As a reminder, our student testing program includes undergraduate, graduate and medical students.
-- The employee asymptomatic positivity rate has been 0.31%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate has been 0.08%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period has been 3.90%.
-- The average turnaround time for asymptomatic test results during this period has been 24 hours.
-- University Health Services conducted 29 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 12.
-- 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. 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 ([email protected]).
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy