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Five positive COVID-19 tests among 5,400 results in Brown community

Russell Carey addresses concerns with scheduling, explains testing procedures

Five out of 5,400 COVID-19 test results of Brown community members were positive as of Sept. 1.

6,375 members of the Brown community who are studying, living or working on campus were enrolled in the University’s testing program, which began Aug. 24, according to a community wide email from Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey '91 sent Wednesday.

By the end of Tuesday, Sept. 1, the program completed “approximately 6,000 tests” at the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center and Jewelry District testing sites, of which 5,400 have been returned as results.

Community members enrolled in the program receive routine testing either once or twice a week, depending on whether they are classified as high contact or medium contact, The Herald previously reported. The five tests corresponded to results from five different community members. The email did not specify the exact dates when the tests that delivered positive results were administered, only that the testing period was between Aug. 24 and Sept 1.

Only 10 of the tests were "indeterminate," according to University spokesperson Brian Clark. Indeterminate results are tests that could not be processed for various reasons.

“Some of the positive results represent prior infections of COVID-19 over the past 90 days, during which time a person can shed virus particles that are subsequently picked up by the test, even though the individual is no longer contagious,” Carey wrote in the email. “Consistent with CDC guidance, when an individual tests positive through routine or other testing, they will not be tested for the next 90 days.”

Carey also wrote that administrators have “experienced challenges with the online scheduling process,” causing problems for community members when signing up for a test. He attributed some of these challenges to a system update in Verily, the 3rd party vendor that schedules the University’s tests. That update took place Tuesday night.

Other challenges “have been related to the change in testing cadence from the summer pilot, when we were sampling the population and selecting participants at random for tests, to the fall when all participants are tested either once or twice a week,” he wrote.

The Broad Institute of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology collects tests from the two testing sites twice a day. The samples arrive at the laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the evening of the day they were collected, Carey wrote.

“While the low rate of positive asymptomatic tests is reassuring, it is by no means an indication that our individual or community vigilance with regard to health and safety measures should relax,” Carey wrote.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.



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