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

As of May 13, 2021, more than 32.6 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with more than 580,000 cumulative total deaths in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. Over the past seven-day period, the state reporting the highest number of cases per 100,000 is Rhode Island (98) and the state reporting the least is California (64).

The vaccine rollout continues, and over 250 million doses have been administered. Approximately 46.6 percent of the U.S. population have received at least one dose, and 35.8 percent are now fully vaccinated. In New York State, 48.9 percent have received at least one dose and 40.4 percent are fully vaccinated. The testing positivity rate in New York State on May 12 remained extremely low, at 1.08 percent. Our medical school students, faculty, and staff in New York and Arkansas continue to contribute to this historic national vaccination effort.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 12- to 15-year-olds, and the CDC has also approved. The NYITCOM Academic Health Center on the Long Island campus is now administering these vaccines, and we encourage friends and relatives of New York Tech to take advantage of this.

Pfizer-BioNTech has also applied for full FDA approval for its vaccine, which would help resolve the legal concern of mandating "emergency-use" vaccines, increase the likelihood of employer and college mandates, reduce vaccine hesitancy, and ultimately increase vaccination rates.

In addition to these major events, the biggest change this week directly impacting the daily activities of most Americans is the CDC's new vaccine-related guidelines. Under the new recommendations, fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance themselves in any setting.

The CDC continues to monitor variants of SARS Cov-2, and B.1.1.7 (the U.K. variant) continues to be the predominant variant nationwide. It still represents as much as 80.7 percent of the coronavirus variants in Tennessee and now accounts for 47.8 percent of variants in New York.

From a global perspective, India remains the area of highest concern, with 362,727 new COVID-19 cases reported on May 12. In India, roughly 2 percent of the population have been fully vaccinated. It appears that a new variant, known as B.1.617, may be fueling this second COVID-19 wave in India. The World Health Organization has classified this strain as a worldwide Variant of Concern.

It is clear that all of the national efforts including community mitigation, testing, early diagnosis and contact tracing, quarantine/isolation, vaccinations, and timely clinical care have resulted in dramatic improvement over time and a significant change in national guidelines. We have all contributed directly or indirectly, and we should continue to behave in ways that will continue to reduce the spread of this virus.

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