Bryant University likely drives up cases in Smithfield
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A recent increase in the coronavirus infection rate in Smithfield is likely due to more cases among Bryant University students, according to state officials.
For the last three weeks, Smithfield has had the highest number of new COVID-19 cases per capita in the state.
“Cases among Bryant University students are believed to have been a big factor,” Joseph Wendelken, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health told The Providence Journal in an email Tuesday.
The number of Bryant students testing positive more than doubled from the middle of February to the end of the month, according to the department.
The town had 227 new cases per 100,000 population for the week ending Feb. 13, but that climbed to 453 for the week ending Feb. 20 and to 786 for the week ending Feb. 27. The number fell to 462 for the week ending March 6.
As cases on campus rose, the university took immediate action, including doubling testing from once a week to twice a week, said Inge-Lise Ameer, Bryant’s vice president of student affairs.
The university also halted in-person student activities except for classes. Students did not spread the virus off campus and no students have been hospitalized for COVID-19, she said.