During the week of Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, 117 students and 31 employees tested positive for COVID-19, according to a Feb. 4 Today@Brown announcement. Although positive cases among students increased by 50 from the previous week, it “feels very manageable,” said Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey ’91 MA’06. During the previous week, 67 students and 45 employees reported positive tests, The Herald previously reported.
The University distributed 15,840 testing kits — which include two rapid antigen tests per kit — to the community as of Feb. 2, according to the announcement.
Carey emphasized that individuals who reported positive tests continue to show no or mild symptoms and there have been no instances of severe illnesses or hospitalization. There is also no indication of widespread transmission and no spikes in a particular area on campus, such as a residence hall or athletic team, he added.
The University is “cautiously optimistic,” though “not ready” yet to loosen restrictions regarding testing and masking, and plans to reassess in mid-February, Carey said.
“We want to ease a little bit further into this semester before making any of those changes,” he added. “It’s a little bit early now.”
Carey said that the University may eventually loosen masking restrictions in the Nelson Fitness Center, theatre performances and even classes as positive case numbers improve on campus and in Rhode Island.
In response to recent remarks from President Christina Paxson P’19, where she spoke about ending indoor mask mandates on campus, Carey said, “We would love to (loosen restrictions) as soon as we can, but … we know mask wearing is highly effective, and is absolutely contributing to what we're seeing on campus (in terms of positive case numbers) so we're … not quite there.”
Andrews Commons, which was previously designated as a meal and essential items pickup location for COVID-19 positive students, returned to normal operation on Feb. 4, The Herald previously reported.
Josiah’s also returned to its normal 6 p.m. - 2 a.m. operating hours.
“Because the numbers have been much lower than we planned for … dining is able to resume normal operations,” Carey said.
Haley Sandlow is a section editor covering science and research as well as admissions and financial aid. She is a junior from Chicago, Illinois, studying English and French.