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

As of April 8, 2021, more than 30 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tragically, we now have over 555,000 cumulative total deaths in the United States since the start of the pandemic. Nationally, COVID-19 cases had been steadily decreasing for approximately 10 weeks. However, trends are changing, and cases have increased over the past 12 days. Hospitalizations were also decreasing, but we now see a 4.8 percent increase from the previous seven-day period.

Fortunately, the average number of deaths continues to decline nationwide, while the rate of vaccination continues to climb. Nationally, 33.1 percent of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. In New York State, 35.1 percent of the population has received at least one dose. In Arkansas, based on 851,548 people receiving at least one dose of the vaccine and a population of approximately 3 million, the vaccination rate is about 28.4 percent. NYITCOM-Arkansas continues to assist with local vaccination efforts to rural and underserved areas.

As a reminder, all New Yorkers 16 years of age and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. NYITCOM has received a limited amount of vaccine from New York State for distribution to clinic patients and our students. If you are a student, a mass vaccination will be held on the Long Island campus this weekend and the beginning of next week for you to be vaccinated.

With the increase in vaccine availability and testing, a new tool developed in New York State facilitates the safe reopening of businesses and return to public places. The Excelsior Pass is a free, voluntary, fast, and secure way to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results in a secure, digital format. It is generated based on data provided by your healthcare provider or testing laboratory to the secure New York State and New York City immunization and COVID-19 testing databases. There are three types of COVID-19 passes currently available:
  1. Vaccination Pass (valid for 180 days after the pass is retrieved, at which time a new pass may be retrieved)
  2. PCR Test Pass (valid until midnight on the third day after a test)
  3. Antigen Test Pass (valid for six hours from the time of a test)
New Yorkers can store passes digitally on their smartphones or print them out to present at participating businesses and venues. More information can be found here.

The ability for the U.S. to return to a state of normalcy will depend not only on vaccination rates, but also on the concerning issue of variants and ongoing community mitigation efforts. At a press conference this week, the CDC director shared that "based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States." This was previously predicted, given that the U.K. variant was found to be more easily transmitted than other forms. It is important to note that despite the numerous variants of COVID-19, if we continue to practice community mitigation activities (such as wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and remaining at home if ill or symptomatic), we can still help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

As always, the New York Tech community is welcome to make an appointment for a COVID-19 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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