Good morning everyone,
With over 133,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey and 300,000 in New York State, and a slowly decreasing rate of infection, we are looking to the future and starting to see a glimpse of hope.
I encourage you all to get outdoors and get some vitamin D, and if you cannot socially distance, please wear a mask. As we accept what is – let’s remain in a state of awareness and prioritize the things that encourage a healthy life and immune system – sleep, exercise, nutrition, family time, and fresh air. I am hoping there is communication to students and parents that encourages the same. If you have any question as to communications to your communities, we are ready to help you provide the most accurate and up to date information.
Testing is improving and access to testing is more ubiquitous. Phase 1 is an opportunity for us to begin to restore some normalcy. As far as school and sports we are all looking towards next year with uncertainty. I encourage you to keep in touch with me as communications start to come through from your leadership at the local and state level. At Columbia and New York Presbyterian, we are providing information to government officials and directing policy, and every day new information becomes available. Immediate tactics need to remain fluid while we look to the horizon for longer term strategy. We need to have plans in place for best case and worst-case scenarios so that we are best prepared to meet the challenges as they unfold.
Even though school will remain closed by the Governor’s orders, the rest of the world will begin to ramp up. As re-opening progresses, we will have improved testing of those exposed to help better plan the next steps; along with, contact tracing which will help to only quarantine those at greatest risk vs quarantining everybody, which is the current strategy. If phase 1 is successful phase 2 will likely begin sometime in the summer. The question as to whether seasons will influence the re-emergence of the virus in the fall, if silent carriers will increase the rate of spread as isolation is relaxed, whether various strains of this virus will have different impacts as travel is restored, are all questions that remain unanswered.
We will soon have a better understanding of the epidemiology of this virus. As that happens, we will be ready to move forward with strategies that can reduce the burden of this disease and prepare our hospitals with critical care and PPE for the next wave should that occur.
Be well & be safe.