Message from Brian L. Harper M.D., M.P.H.
Dear New York Tech Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As of January 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 22,740,142 cases of COVID-19 and 379,255 deaths in the United States since the start of the pandemic. We are breaking mortality records on a daily basis, recently surpassing 4,100 deaths in one day alone, which again confirms that we remain in the midst of a worsening pandemic.

Last week, I shared information about the U.K. variant (B117), which is reportedly more transmissible (by up to 70%) than previous forms. This variant has now been found in New York City (two cases) and Long Island (four cases). As a result, New York State has reached an agreement with major airlines to require testing for New York-bound passengers from the U.K. Additionally, the U.S. announced that, effective January 26, a negative COVID test will be required for all international travelers.

According to the CDC, emerging variants are not uncommon with coronaviruses. In addition to the U.K. variant, there are two others also being investigated: a South African variant and a Brazilian variant, which has also been found in travelers returning to Japan from Brazil. As we see increases in variants, the importance of community mitigation and vaccination in preventing infection becomes increasingly important.

As the number of people vaccinated in the U.S. has not reached previously established expectations, the federal government has approved the distribution of all available vaccines to the states. In New York, the governor changed the vaccine prioritization guidelines accordingly.

As of January 11, New Yorkers in Phase 1a and segments of Phase 1b are eligible to be vaccinated. Eligible groups include doctors, nurses, and health care workers; people age 65 and over; first responders; teachers; public transit workers; grocery store workers; and public safety workers. College faculty with in-class (non-remote) students are eligible to receive the vaccine. College staff have not yet been approved unless they are in another category (e.g., over 65). In New York State, you can check your eligibility online.

On January 13, the Jacob K. Javits Center, Westchester County Center, and New York State Fair Expo Center began administering vaccines to eligible New Yorkers. These are the first three state-run sites to open. A site at Jones Beach on Long Island will open on January 14. Vaccinations are by appointment. New Yorkers needing more information can call the vaccination hotline at 833.NYS.4VAX (833.697.4829).

As always, the importance of maintaining our community mitigation activities (wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and remaining at home if ill or symptomatic) cannot be overemphasized. This is particularly true with the emergence of a more transmissible variant.

The New York Tech community is welcome to make an appointment for a COVID test at the Academic Health Care Center in Long Island by calling 516.686.1300. If you feel anxious or uneasy, please reach out to Counseling and Wellness Services at our campuses in Long Island (516.686.7683) or New York City (212.261.1773) to talk or make a virtual appointment.


Brian L. Harper, M.D., M.P.H.
Chief Medical Officer, NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine
Vice President, Equity and Inclusion

Copyright © 2021 New York Institute of Technology