March 20, 2020
Brown Health Services Clinical Director Adam Pallant and Associate VP for Campus Life Vanessa Britto
Tags Undergraduates Grad and Medical Students Faculty and Staff

To Brown Community: RIDOH handling COVID case reporting


Dear Brown Community,

Cases of COVID-19 continue to increase nationally and here in our state, where the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has now reported 54 confirmed cases. We know that this continues to be a source of concern for all of those who continue to reside in Rhode Island.

We’re writing to share that among the new coronavirus cases reported locally, one includes a Brown community member. However, we want to make clear that this case involves an individual who has had no contact at all with the Brown campus at any time after becoming exposed. A faculty member returned from personal travel overseas and immediately self-isolated per the state’s directive to all returning travelers. This individual never returned to campus and has not been in contact with any member of the Brown community. While self-isolating, this individual was confirmed to have COVID-19 and informed the University out of an abundance of caution. This community member is now recovering at home, and no other student, faculty or staff member has had any contact.

Our foremost priority remains the health and safety of our community. And we have taken very important steps to minimize exposure on campus. We understand that the ongoing news reports about the spread of the virus may generate a lot of questions, and we want to share some key information about Brown’s approach to this national pandemic as cases increase nationally.

RIDOH to manage all public health reports:

As this public health crisis evolves, it unfortunately may not become uncommon that members of our community have exposure resulting from their personal activities away from Brown. Brown will continue to defer to RIDOH to make appropriate notification of contacts of positive cases, and Brown will not send communications to the community about positive tests. This is the appropriate public health practice being adopted also by many of our peer institutions in deference to the role of their public health agencies. This also recognizes our current remote learning and teleworking status, and that individuals may receive COVID-19 diagnoses in their activities across the country and around the world away from Brown’s physical campus.

Contact protocol:

Please remember that, in Rhode Island, RIDOH will communicate directly with all individuals who are deemed to be at risk given contact with a diagnosed individual in Rhode Island. If you have not been contacted, you are not considered by RIDOH as someone likely to come down with illness. For anyone with concerns about potential exposure, we encourage you to please read this March 16 letter to the Brown community. Brown community members no longer in Rhode Island should become aware of the contact protocols of their local and state health agencies. As you may know, Brown does not manage this information.

Respect for privacy:

Finally, out of respect for privacy, we ask that if you know the identity of anyone being tested, please respect their privacy so they can focus on their health with the support of family, friends and medical providers.

As always, additional information on Brown’s overall response is available on our COVID-19 website. Please continue to take care of yourselves take steps to remain safe during this difficult time.


Adam Pallant, MD, PhD
Clinical Director, Brown Health Services

Vanessa Britto, MD, MSc, FACP
Associate Vice President for Campus Life, Executive Director, Health and Wellness