New York Institute of Technology
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As of November 18, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 11 million cases of COVID-19 and 250,000 deaths in the United States since the start of the pandemic. This is an increase of over 1 million cases in one week! Hospitals in many areas of the Midwest and South are nearing capacity, and although the long-term prognosis is good with the development of a second potential vaccine, the short-term prognosis is poor, particularly for those areas with growing infection rates. The sad truth is that we can expect more infections and deaths as the virus continues to spread.

Positivity Rates, Transmission, and Remote Operations
New York State continues to see increases in positivity rates. Long Island has a COVID testing positivity rate of 3.6%, and New York City recently closed public schools because the positivity rate has reached 3%.

Given the progress New York State had made since the onset of the virus, these increased infection rates are of concern. However, in comparison, in Craighead County, Ark., where NYITCOM maintains a campus, the positivity rate is 12%. In British Columbia, where our Vancouver campus is located, the overall testing positivity rate is 13.6%. Both the Vancouver and Arkansas campuses are currently operating remotely in response to government guidelines.

Epidemiological data suggest that large and small gatherings are a major source of viral transmission. Large events can become “super-spreaders” of the disease, but small gatherings can also lead to infections. Thanksgiving often brings together people from all around the world, and interstate and international travel has an inherent risk of viral transmission. Georgia Tech has developed a wonderful tool for assessing risk for anyone considering congregating over the holidays.

Based on these facts, New York Tech is taking additional precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. One is reducing the number of people on campus. Like many other universities, we will operate remotely after the Thanksgiving break through the end of the fall semester. We will also require testing for those returning to the residence halls after Thanksgiving.

Importance of Masks and Physical Distancing
Anecdotal reports of New York students, staff, and faculty not appropriately wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing on campus is disconcerting and disgraceful. For those who are training to be health care professionals, this is an opportunity to demonstrate true leadership and professionalism by following public health guidelines and encouraging peers and others to follow guidelines as well. For non-health care students and faculty, this is an opportunity to demonstrate civic responsibility and maintain a culture of concern for all members of the New York Tech community as well as the general community.

As we await a vaccine, we must bridge the gap between “now” and the actual vaccination of the nation. Vaccine development is a very important step, but vaccination of an entire population is a logistical challenge that will take time. Therefore, we should all continue to engage in community mitigation activities such as wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and remaining at home if ill or symptomatic.

Resources at New York Tech
As always, the New York Tech community is welcome to make an appointment for a free COVID test or a flu shot at the Academic Health Care Center in Long Island by calling 516.686.1300. Those who may continue to feel anxious or uneasy can 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

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