November 13, 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: 11/05 - 11/11


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 you will see below, we continue to see an increase in people testing positive for the virus, which is the case across Rhode Island and the nation. There is no single cause or source of this troubling increase — it is a combination of many individual decisions and behaviors that can enable the virus to spread. Not wearing a mask with people outside your immediate household; forgetting to wash your hands frequently; eating too close to other people; having too many social contacts — these are individual choices that can seem harmless at the time, but that can have a significant impact on individuals and on the community as a whole. 

We fully understand that the constant vigilance of navigating this pandemic is causing considerable fatigue — we feel it too. But we have less than two weeks until Thanksgiving Break, and especially for students who want to travel home (and don’t want to remain here in isolation or quarantine, or carry infection home to their friends and families), this is the time to be exceedingly cautious and continue to follow all public health guidance at all times. Wear your mask, wash your hands, maintain social distancing and keep your close contacts to as small a group as possible. 

If you plan to depart before Thanksgiving, begin to reduce your in-person contact now. Brown students, faculty and staff have kept the campus community healthy and safe for months — let's keep it that way through the end of the fall term.

At Brown, since launching our routine testing program for the fall term on Aug. 24, we have conducted 110,217 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 7,634 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 79 (up 22 from last week’s update) — a prevalence rate of 1.0%.

Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, Nov. 5, through Wednesday, Nov. 11:

-- There have been 22 positive asymptomatic test results: 7 employees, 2 on-campus students and 13 off-campus students. As a reminder, our student testing program includes undergraduate, graduate and medical students.

-- The employee asymptomatic positivity rate has been 0.23%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate has been 0.18%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period has been 5.20%.

-- The average turnaround time for asymptomatic test results during this period has been 30 hours.

-- University Health Services conducted 49 symptomatic tests of students. Of these, between 5 and 10 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 16.

-- 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.

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 to make that change. Faculty and staff can email 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,, and faculty and staff can contact the employee testing support team (401-368-4828, 


Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy