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Faculty member among new Rhode Island COVID-19 cases

Faculty who tested positive did not come in contact with Brown community, University will no longer send communications about positive cases

A second member of the Brown community, a University faculty member, has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a message from Health Services Clinical Director Adam Pallant and Associate Vice President for Campus Life Vanessa Britto.

The Rhode Island Department of Health has confirmed 66 positive or presumptive positive cases within the state to date.

The faculty member who tested positive for COVID-19 “has had no contact at all with the Brown campus at any time after becoming exposed,” Pallant and Britto wrote in their message. The individual self-isolated immediately upon returning from “personal travel overseas,” per the state’s instructions to all returning travelers, and “has not been in contact with any member of the Brown community.” The faculty member is now recovering at home. 

The message, which was forwarded to the Brown community March 20 by Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy and Chair of the Core Crisis Team Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, also states that the University will no longer send communications about positive tests and will “continue to defer to RIDOH to make appropriate notification of contacts of positive cases.” 

The decision to defer “all public health reports” to RIDOH aligns with the practice adopted by several peer institutions, Pallant and Britto wrote. “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.”

In adherence with Rhode Island’s contact protocol, RIDOH “will communicate directly with all individuals who are deemed to be at risk given contact with a diagnosed individual” in the state, according to the message. 

These updates follow several measures taken by the University in response to the global health crisis, including cancelling in-person classes this past week, moving all courses online beginning March 30, suspending study abroad programs in countries around the world, restricting research on campus and asking students living on campus and on University-owned properties to leave campus by March 17

“Our foremost priority remains the health and safety of our community,” Pallant and Britto wrote. “We have taken very important steps to minimize exposure on campus.”



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