December 18, 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: 12/10 - 12/16


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:

Prior to reviewing the data from the past week, please read carefully the following overall updates:

-- We welcomed the news of the first COVID-19 vaccinations being conducted in Rhode Island this week. That was a positive development, which bodes well for the coming months. Priorities for vaccination are being determined by the Rhode Island Department of Health with advice from experts, including Brown faculty members. Widespread distribution of the vaccine will take some time, and while we recognize that some members of the Brown community may receive the vaccine relatively soon due to being in various priority groups, all current policies regarding access to campus and mandatory participation in the University’s routine testing program will remain in place until further notice regardless of an individual’s vaccination status. We will be monitoring the progress of vaccine distribution closely and making adjustments guided by medical science and public health best practices as appropriate. More information about the state’s vaccine distribution plan can be found here:

-- Participants in our routine COVID-19 testing program received a communication from me on Nov. 19 regarding testing expectations and testing site hours over the Winter Break. Those letters to student and employee participants are also available under Messages to the Community on the Healthy Brown website:

-- The next testing summary update will be distributed to the community via Today@Brown on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. If there is a need for any more timely updates or communication of important information over the Winter Break, we will do so through e-mail and other direct communication channels. In the meantime, we wish all members of the Brown community a safe and restful break, thank you for your vigilance and commitment to making the fall term such a success, and look forward to an increasingly better public health environment in 2021.

At Brown, since launching our routine testing program for the fall term on Aug. 24, we have conducted 153,116 asymptomatic tests to date. A total of 7,748 individuals have been tested in that timeframe, and the total number of positive test results is 198 (up 19 from last week’s update) — a prevalence rate of 2.5%.

Here are highlights of the testing program over the last seven days, Thursday, Dec. 10, through Wednesday, Dec. 16:

-- There have been 19 positive asymptomatic test results: 16 from employees and 3 from off-campus students. As a reminder, our student testing program includes undergraduate, graduate and medical students.

-- The employee asymptomatic positivity rate was 0.57%, and the student asymptomatic positivity rate was 0.06%. The Rhode Island positivity rate during this same time period was 8.27%.

-- 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, less than 5 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 was 18.

-- 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