A Message From New York Tech's Chief Medical Officer
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As the nation grapples with increasing COVID-related hospitalizations and record numbers of daily cases and deaths, there is no expectation that numbers will improve in the immediate future. As of December 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported nearly 15 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 282,000 deaths in the United States since the start of the pandemic. There are estimates that in the U.S. one person dies from COVID-19 every minute.

As a result, the significance of proper testing remains at the forefront. As the availability of tests has increased, the role of ongoing testing has also grown in importance. The goal of our public health strategy is to test, diagnose, and isolate those found to be positive and to quarantine those found to be contacts. This strategy, along with the Surgeon General’s "3 W’s" (Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Watch your distance), is the cornerstone of our prevention efforts.

In New York State, for example, travelers are now allowed to test out of the 14-day mandatory quarantine requirement when arriving from other states and certain countries by demonstrating a negative test prior to leaving the state /country and then taking another test within four days of entering New York State. Many K-12 districts (including New York City) have implemented mandatory testing programs for students and staff, and New York State has supplied rapid Coronavirus tests to eligible colleges to assist with surveillance activities.

Recently, the FDA granted “Emergency Use” approval for a self-administered home testing kit developed by Lucira Health. “While COVID-19 diagnostic tests have been authorized for at-home collection, this is the first test that can be fully self-administered and provide results at home. This new testing option is an important diagnostic advancement to address the pandemic and reduce the public burden of disease transmission,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., and “underscores the FDA’s ongoing commitment to expand access to COVID-19 testing.”

As access to different forms of testing increases, the quality of tests continues to improve. Although saliva tests already exist, a new test has been developed with improved accuracy. Developed by SUNY Upstate Medical and New York startup Quadrant Biosciences, the Clarifi COVID-19 saliva test detects the virus in its earliest stages. Our own Academic Health Center is exploring acquiring this test.

Finally, new vaccines remain on the horizon, with 170,000 doses arriving in New York State next week. Roughly 72,000 doses are heading for New York City, and 26,500 doses are targeted for Long Island. In addition, 249,000 doses are expected to be sent to Canada, where our Vancouver campus is located, and 25,000 doses are expected to be sent to Arkansas, home to NYITCOM-Jonesboro. Health care workers are expected to receive top priority.

Until the vaccine arrives (and 70% of the population is vaccinated to acquire herd immunity), 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.

As always, members of our community are welcome to make an appointment for a COVID test at the Academic Health Care Center in Long Island by calling 516.686.1300. Those who 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
Vice President, Equity & Inclusion

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