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

This week (March 11, 2021) marks the one-year anniversary of the COVID pandemic, as announced by the World Health Organization. Everyone in the New York Tech community should be commended on demonstrating flexibility and resilience in responding to this pandemic, the likes of which has not been seen in over 100 years, since the Spanish Flu. As of March 11, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 29 million cases of COVID-19 and over 530,000 cumulative total deaths in the United States due to COVID since the start of the pandemic.

Earlier this week, the media focused on a new experimental treatment developed by Merck and Ridgeback Therapeutics for people infected with SARS Cov-2. The drug, Molnupiravir, produces antiviral effects by introducing copying errors as SARS-CoV-2 replicates. It has not yet been FDA approved, but is in Phase 2 review. Based on a 182-person study, the drug was found to reduce the infectious virus after five days of treatment of those with COVID-19. No virus was found in those who took the drug twice a day for five days. However, in 24 percent of those who took the placebo (and did not take the drug), the virus was found—this is statistically significant as it suggests, but does not prove, that Molnupiravir may reduce symptoms. Also to be determined in upcoming studies is whether Molnupiravir helps prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

This week, the CDC also published the first set of public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people. Fully vaccinated individuals now:
  • Can visit each other indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Can visit other unvaccinated people (who are at low risk of contracting the virus) from a single household without wearing masks or physically distancing.
  • Avoid quarantine following a known exposure if they remain asymptomatic.
  • Are still asked to continue to wear masks and physically distance in public, and when visiting high-risk unvaccinated friends and family.
Although the CDC did not promulgate any new recommendations regarding travel, New York State has indicated that effective April 1, travelers to New York from all other states will not be required to quarantine upon arrival to New York.

On a national level, there are now more than 2 million doses of the vaccine being injected daily. President Biden is asking all states to allow everyone to be vaccinated after May 1, 2021, irrespective of risk group. Locally, Nassau County has opened the Nassau Coliseum as a vaccination site, and Nassau University Medical Center has created a site specifically for veterans. Unfortunately, racial and ethnic disparities still exist in the distribution of the vaccine.

Overall, the nation continues to move in the right direction, with over 10% of the population fully vaccinated and many others experiencing natural immunity from contracting the disease. Thus, the overall population is becoming increasingly immune. This may be contributing to decreasing hospitalizations and mortality rates. However, to bring the transmission down to negligible levels, we must continue to stay the course with our community mitigation activities (i.e., wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and remaining at home if ill or symptomatic).

As always, 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. Those who may 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 and Inclusion

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