November 20, 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: 11/12 - 11/18


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 last week, we continue to see an increase in people testing positive for the virus, which is the case across Rhode Island and the nation. While we have not seen patterns or connections between positive cases that would indicate spread of the virus on campus, the increase in cases is still concerning. With the recent return to Campus Activity Status Level 1, we know that members of the community will be reducing their in-person contact and otherwise taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Wear your mask, wash your hands, maintain social distancing and keep your close contacts to as small a group as possible. 

At Brown, since launching our routine testing program for the fall term on Aug. 24, we have conducted 121,489 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 7,668 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 116 (up 37 from last week’s update) — a prevalence rate of 1.5%.

Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, Nov. 11, through Wednesday, Nov. 18:

-- There have been 37 positive asymptomatic test results: 12 from employees, 7 from on-campus students and 18 from off-campus students. As a reminder, our student testing program includes undergraduate, graduate and medical students.

-- The employee asymptomatic positivity rate has been 0.40%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate has been 0.32%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period has been 6.50%.

-- The average turnaround time for asymptomatic test results during this period has been 31 hours.

-- University Health Services conducted 37 symptomatic tests of students. Of these, less than 5 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 22.

-- 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