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

As of July 14, 2021, more than 33.7 million cases of COVID-19 and over 605,551 cumulative total deaths have been reported in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since the start of the pandemic. Over the past seven-day period, the state reporting the highest number of cases per 100,000 people is Arkansas (227.1); South Dakota reported the least (1.7).

The vaccine rollout continues, with more than 335 million doses administered in the U.S.; 55.7 percent of the population has received at least one dose, and 48.2 percent are now fully vaccinated. In New York State, as of July 15, the CDC reports that 61.3 percent have received at least one dose and 55.6 percent are fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the testing positivity rate in the state remains extremely low, at approximately 0.34 percent. In Nassau County, home of the Long Island campus, County Executive Laura Curran recently stated, "I'm proud to share that that 80 percent of adult residents (18+) in Nassau County have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, the highest percentage among large counties in New York State and well above the national average."

However, the rate of vaccinations has slowed significantly across the country. It is currently believed that one major reason for vaccine hesitancy is misinformation. The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is taking this issue very seriously and has issued an advisory called "Confronting Health Misinformation." This important document acknowledges the power of misinformation and highlights how misinformation about masks, physical distancing, vaccines, etc., can actually lead to increased infection, hospitalizations, and deaths. It also acknowledges the importance of the messenger and emphasizes the need for a broad array of trusted community members, such as health professionals, faith leaders, and educators, to participate in delivering COVID prevention information.

More evidence of the effectiveness of the nationwide vaccine efforts has been demonstrated in a study led by Yale University, which estimated that 279,000 lives and 1.25 million hospitalizations may have been prevented as a result of vaccinations.

Further evidence from the Cleveland Clinic has also demonstrated vaccine efficacy. Among the 4,300 COVID-19 patients admitted to Cleveland Clinic hospitals between Jan. 1 and April 13, 99.75 percent were not fully vaccinated. The study also looked at 47,000 Cleveland Clinic employees who received one, two, or no shots. Of the 1,991 who tested positive for the coronavirus in recent months, 99.7 percent weren't vaccinated, with 0.3% fully vaccinated.

As part of the vaccination effort, New York Tech is one of 250 colleges participating in the White House and U.S. Department of Education COVID-19 College Challenge. Throughout the month of August, we will encourage our community members to get vaccinated and hold vaccination events at both of our New York campuses.

The CDC continues to monitor variants of SARS Cov-2. The Delta variant is estimated to be 60 percent more transmissible than the U.K. or Alpha variants. There is still not any strong evidence that it is directly more lethal, but the high infectivity rate can cause more people to contract the disease and, accordingly, put more people at risk for death. Bear in mind that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been found to be effective against this variant in preventing hospitalizations and death. The Delta variant now represents as much as 74.6 percent of the coronavirus variants in Missouri (the state with the highest recorded percentage of this variant). Roughly five weeks ago, the Delta variant represented only 29.3 percent of cases in Missouri. This variant represents 19.2 percent of cases in New York, up from 3.8 percent five weeks ago.

From a global perspective, Brazil is causing great concern because of its high mortality rate. It has recorded 537,394 deaths and more than 30 million cases reported, according to Johns Hopkins University. This is similar to the total number of deaths in the U.S., despite Brazil having roughly 56 percent of the population of the U.S.!

Despite improvements in infection and mortality rates due to community mitigation efforts, vaccination success, and clinical care efforts, we should continue to follow practices that have helped to reduce the spread of this virus and other germs. This includes frequent hand washing and sanitizing, avoiding unnecessary contact, remaining home when ill, and being mindful of surroundings that may put us at risk. Although transmission has been reduced, the virus has not been eliminated and will probably be around for a long time!

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 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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