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

As of August 19, 2021, more than 37.2 million cases of COVID-19 and over 623,244 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 Mississippi (842.6); Vermont reported the least (72.6).

The vaccine rollout continues, with more than 359 million doses administered in the U.S. As of August 19, 2021, 60.2 percent of the population has received at least one dose, and 51.1 percent are now fully vaccinated. In New York State, as of yesterday, 65.6 percent of the population have received at least one dose and 58.6 percent are fully vaccinated.

Due to the increasing number of cases, hospitalizations, and positive test percentages in many counties throughout New York State and nationwide (despite increasing vaccination rates), there have been many COVID-19-related policy changes. On the federal level, vaccinations are now required for employees of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as members of the armed forces. Long-term care employees who work at facilities receiving Medicaid or Medicare will also be required to be vaccinated.

In New York State, a mandate now requires that all healthcare workers, including staff at all hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, and other congregate care settings, must receive at least one vaccine dose by September 27.

In addition, the CDC recently issued recommendations for immunocompromised individuals to receive a third vaccine dose. Next week, it is expected that the CDC will also recommend a third dose for the general population, to be received eight months after the second dose.

These policy changes are generally taking place a result of the more communicable Delta variant. The CDC continues to monitor variants of SARS Cov-2, including the Delta variant, which now represents up to 91.9 percent of coronavirus variants in Utah (the state with the highest recorded percentage of this variant). In New York State, the Delta variant accounts for 81.7 percent of all variants and reportedly 94 percent of new COVID-19 cases tested in New York City in the past four weeks.

From a global perspective, the experience of Israel should be noted. Despite high vaccination rates, Israel has seen an increase in breakthrough infections. This data has contributed to the CDC’s anticipated recommendation of a third vaccine dose. While the data may indicate that this additional dose is clinically warranted, it has also raised issues of global health disparities. Many nations are unable to provide initial doses of the vaccine to their populations, whereas the more affluent nations, such as the United States, are considering booster vaccines. This issue is being addressed by the World Health Organization.

With the occurrence of the Delta variant, it is more important than ever to continue with community mitigation efforts including frequent hand washing and sanitizing and avoiding unnecessary contact. For the New York Tech community, it is important for employees and students to remain at home when ill. Vaccinated individuals can still carry the coronavirus and put others at risk for infection. Therefore, it remains vital to stay at home if you have flu-like symptoms. COVID-19 virus transmission has clearly not been eliminated and we should expect to address its transmission for the foreseeable future.

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