SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
Important Update For Students on COVID-19
Updates and Reminders: Downstate's Response to COVID-19
With the events of this week, I am writing to remind everyone of our need to be ever vigilant in order to protect ourselves and our Downstate community – students, faculty, staff, and patients. These reminders are specific to your role as a student, but other members of our community must follow similar rules in order to all do our part to keep our community safe.
At Downstate, we expect the following:
- Everyone must always wear a facemask covering both your mouth and nose. The key here is 100% compliance, everywhere on campus. You must politely decline conversations if the clinical colleague is not wearing a mask, even if that individual is a resident, faculty member, or attending. We also expect that you will wear a facemask when off campus and at all times when you’re not at home or involved in an activity where transmission can occur, especially if you can’t socially distance. If you are involved in clinical activities, please follow the clinical guidelines of the appropriate PPE required for your level of patient interaction (see the Downstate PPE table). If studying at a partner hospital, you must also follow the rules of that facility.
- You must self-monitor for a temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees.
- You must continue social distancing practices, including maintaining at least six feet of distance from others. Limit social gatherings to only when necessary and follow local guidelines, which may vary depending on where you live.
- You must regularly clean and disinfect all areas, especially any shared equipment or workspaces.
- You must report any potential or confirmed exposure to COVID-19 from a close contact, any potential symptoms of COVID-19, any travel to restricted states or internationally, and any positive diagnostic test indicating you have to COVID-19 to Student & Employee Health prior to beginning or continuing any on-campus or in-person activity, even if doing so means you have to quarantine. (See below for further instructions.)
- The SUNY Downstate Contact Tracing Corps will contact anyone who has either been screened and/or tested positive or who were exposed. Please be honest and forthright with the information asked for by the tracer if you are contacted.
If we all continue to follow these recommendations, we can continue to keep our campus as safe as possible for all.
In addition, as previously communicated, SUNY has implemented a new policy on sanctioning for violations of COVID-19 safety protocols. The SUNY policy — Uniform Sanctioning in Response to COVID-19 Student Violations — took effect at 8am on Thursday, October 1, 2020.
Here are some other reminders about situations that might occur and how you, as a student, should respond to them.
If You have Had a Close COVID-19 Contact
If you have a prolonged and close contact (defined below) with a positive or suspected positive case, please contact Student & Employee Health immediately for instructions. You may be required to begin a 7-day quarantine before resuming in-person classes or activities. You should not return to in-person activities until authorized to do so by Student Health or the SUNY Downstate Contact Tracing Corps.
“Close contact” is defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) as coming within six (6) feet of an individual for at least fifteen (15) minutes (prolonged exposure) starting from two (2) days before symptom onset (or for asymptomatic clients, two (2) days before positive specimen collection) until the time the individual is isolated. In healthcare settings, prolonged exposure to patients with COVID-19 is considered as a higher risk if the healthcare worker’s eyes, nose, or mouth are not covered, or if the patient is actively having specific symptoms such as cough during the clinical encounter. Any duration of exposure during the performance of an aerosol-generating procedure is considered prolonged.
Please note that even if you are permitted to return to campus after a negative test, you must continue to quarantine, except for coming to and from campus to participate in educational activities, for the full 14 days after your last exposure.
Travel Internationally or To Restricted States
If you are traveling to New York from a restricted state (defined by the list of states at http://ny.gov/states/ on the date you return to New York) or from outside the United States, you are required to quarantine for seven (7) days before coming onto campus. All students must complete this requirement regardless if they are participating in clinical or non-clinical courses in person. You must then be tested for COVID-19 on the 8th day (or later) following return to New York State by Downstate’s Student Health Service and, if the test is negative, the student can return to or begin in-person courses/activities. (If the test is positive, you will receive further instructions provided by Downstate Student Health.) (Please note that although we make every effort to return tests as soon as possible, it can take up to 72 hours to receive your test results.) If it has been 14 or more days since your return to New York, you do not have to be tested, but should still be screened by Student Health Services prior to returning to campus. Only Student Health Services or the SUNY Downstate Contact Tracing Corps, not your program faculty or administration, can clear you to return to coursework. Just receiving a negative test or recommendation from another health care provider is not sufficient.
We should note, for students, we continue to recommend that you not travel outside of New York during this period if you can avoid doing so as you risk having to quarantine upon returning to New York. The list of restricted states do change and you must follow the list in effect on the day you return to New York. Also, if you are required to quarantine, Downstate may not be able to provide you with an alternative remote mode of instruction for the material you would miss.
Please note that even if you are permitted to return to campus after a negative test, you must continue to quarantine, except for coming to and from campus to participate in educational activities, for the full 14 days after arrival in New York State.
If You Have a Obtained a Positive COVID-19 Diagnostic Test
If you have a positive test for COVID-19, you should report those results to Student & Employee Health immediately. They can help you navigate care (if needed) and will put you in touch with the Downstate Tracing Corps to determine if you have interacted with anyone else at Downstate that may need to be contacted. You should, obviously, not come to campus (unless directed to by Student & Employee Health or to obtain medical care), or attend classes or in-person activities during this period. Only Student & Employee Health Services or the SUNY Downstate Contact Tracing Corps, not your program faculty or administration, can clear you to return to coursework. Just receiving a negative test or recommendation from another health care provider is not sufficient.
Once again, we want to thank you for continuing to adhere to these mandates and guidelines for the protection and safety of our patients and each other as colleagues. We cannot let our guard down as COVID-19 is still present in our community, and potentially on our campus.
SUNY Downstate Joins Mayo Clinic Convalescent Plasma Trial for Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients
Blood Donations Are Needed from Recovered COVID-19 Patients
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, a dedicated COVID-19 facility, is participating in a national project using convalescent plasma for the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. SUNY Downstate is seeking blood donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19 in order to produce the plasma that will be given to patients. Potential donors must have evidence of previous COVID-19 infection with either a nasopharyngeal swab at the time of illness or a positive serologic test for antibodies to SARs-COV2, and they must be symptom-free for 14 days and seen by a health care provider.
The Mayo Clinic is the lead institution coordinating the trial. This national effort will collect plasma from donors who meet the criteria established by the Food and Drug Administration. There are currently no vaccines or proven treatments for COVID-19.
This treatment is based on the function of antibodies created by the immune system to fight infection. Some of these antibodies are capable of fighting viruses, while others fight off other diseases.
“The use of plasma to help patients fight disease began before the turn of the century, and was widely used prior to the development of antibiotics in the 1940’s,” said Dr. Michael Augenbraun, Chief of Infectious Diseases at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. “We don’t yet know how COVID-19 antibodies might work in helping patients recover, but it is believed an infusion of convalescent plasma may improve their ability to fight the disease until their own immune system is strong enough to take over.”
People who have recovered from COVID-19 who are interested in making a potentially life-saving blood donation for convalescent plasma may email us at CPTrial@downstate.edu.
Supplies Provided by Generous Donors
Today SUNY Downstate received a generous donation of 2500 N95 masks from the Daofeng & Angela Foundation. The donation was arranged by Dr. Lorenzo Paladino, Emergency Medicine Physician, Associate Professor and Assistant Director of Research at Downstate.
Based in Maryland, the Daofeng & Angela Foundation is part of a consortium of non-governmental organizations that recently formed the “The Covid-19 Life Preservation Fund by NGO’s” to provide vital supplies and PPE to fight the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. To date, Chinese philanthropist Daofeng He and the Daofeng & Angela Foundation have together pledged more than $800,000 to support this effort. We appreciate their generosity and the efforts of Dr. Paladino in obtaining this donation. The consortium also donated 1050 N95 masts to Montefiore Medical Center.
Inquiries can be sent to email@example.com
In response to an outpouring of generosity by our community to donate critical medical supplies, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University – University Hospital of Brooklyn has established a special email that be contacted by anyone interested in making donations.