December 4, 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: 11/26 - 12/02


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:

Over the last week, we have seen an increase in asymptomatic positive test results -- 30 this week, compared to 16 last week, and on a lower overall test volume given the holiday. This is consistent with the increase in cases in Rhode Island and nationally, so we are not alarmed by these numbers -- and we still have not seen any concerning spread of the virus on campus -- but it should be a stark reminder to all of us to continue to exercise high degrees of caution in our choices and behavior. Rhode Island remains in a pause through next week, and further information about what that means can be found here:

In addition to adhering to those guidelines from the state, please wear your mask and be vigilant about social distancing, hand washing and keeping your close contacts to as small a group as possible. 

In a positive development, the delays we reported last week with regard to processing test samples at the Broad Institute have been resolved. We have seen test results coming back in the usual 24 hours over the past week.

At Brown, since launching our routine testing program for the fall term on Aug. 24, we have conducted 139,073 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 7,709 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 162 (up 30 from last week’s update) -- a prevalence rate of 2.0%.

Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, Nov. 26, through Wednesday, Dec. 2:

-- There have been 30 positive asymptomatic test results: 15 from employees, 2 from on-campus students and 13 from off-campus students. As a reminder, our student testing program includes undergraduate, graduate and medical students.

-- The employee asymptomatic positivity rate was 0.61%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate was 0.24%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period was 9.39%.

-- The average turnaround time for asymptomatic test results during this period was 24 hours.

-- University Health Services conducted 9 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 was 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