Message from Chancellor Kristina Johnson

SUNY and CUNY Study Abroad Programs Suspended Effective Immediately in Response to Novel Coronavirus Concerns

From the CDC:

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Announcements & Updates

image of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers


Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

SUNY Downstate College of Medicine Students Launch “iPads to Hospitals” To Connect COVID-19 Patients and Families

Nearly 500 devices have already been distributed to 14 hospitals

Three College of Medicine Students at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, a dedicated COVID-19 facility, have organized “iPads to Hospitals”, a not-for-profit effort to acquire new and used iPads to donate to hospitals to help COVID-19 patients can communicate with family members and friends.

“It is heartbreaking to hear stories of patients who are not able to have contact with their family or loved ones,” said Shenara Musthaq, SUNY Downstate College of Medicine Class of 2021. “Even though I can’t care for patients at the bedside, this is something I can do that will make a real difference for patients with COVID-19.”

In recent news reports, Musthaq shared that she has first-hand experience with COVID-19, having developed a fever and respiratory symptoms that lasted more than three weeks. Musthaq says she felt helpless against the disease. That feeling of helplessness, and her experience as a medical student at Downstate, helped motivate her and fellow College of Medicine students Amy Johnson (Class of 2020) and Jeff Arace (Class of 2021) to launch this effort.

iPads to Hospitals has received commitments for nearly 450 donated iPads, as well as $40,000 in donations through a GoFundMe page to purchase an additional 300+ devices. Nearly 500 iPads have already distributed to 11 hospitals in the New York City area, 2 facilities on Long Island, and one hospital in Boston. SUNY Downstate’s University Hospital at Downstate has received 50 iPads, facilitated by Vice Chair of Medicine Mafuzur Rahman, M.D.

“The resilient spirit of the Downstate medical students throughout the pandemic has been quite remarkable,” said Charles Brunicardi, M.D., Dean of the College of Medicine and Sr. Vice President of SUNY Downstate. “These three students have shown ingenuity in fund raising and provided electronic equipment that is helping others battle this deadly disease. Their leadership should be applauded during the greatest medical crisis of our lifetime.”

Chancellor Johnson Announces 227 SUNY Medical School Students are Graduating Early to Help Hardest Hit Hospitals Respond to COVID-19

About 72 Recent Graduates Set to Work in NYC and Long Island with 118 More Graduating Shortly

State University of New York Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson today announced that 227 medical school students are graduating early as a result of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order this month to provide relief to doctors fighting the coronavirus. Eligible students were those already scheduled to graduate after the spring semester who met New York State’s rigorous academic requirements.

To date, 72 graduates are set to work in New York City and Long Island hospitals with 118 more students graduating in the coming weeks to help treat patients at some of the state’s hardest hit facilities.

“SUNY continues to play a critical role in our nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and the deployment of these new doctors is one more example of how we are supporting the Governor’s call to action,” said SUNY Chancellor Johnson. “We are proud of SUNY’s newly trained doctors who are skilled and eager to care for the victims of this disease and ready to provide needed relief to the healthcare staff in some of the nation’s most heavily impacted hospitals.”

SUNY academic medical centers graduating medical students early or on time this spring semester include the following:

  • At the Renaissance School of Medicine (RSOM) at Stony Brook University, 122 medical school students graduated early on April 8. Of those, 49 joined the Stony Brook University Hospital and 14 went to work at NYU Winthrop University Hospital on Long Island.
  • SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse graduated 65 medical students early on April 10, and nine are set to start working in New York City and Long Island. Another 21 students are expected to graduate on time to work at hospitals in New York City and Long Island.
  • In Brooklyn, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University’s College of Medicine will be graduating approximately 40 medical students early on May 1, and nearly half will work in New York City and Long Island. Another 83 students are expected to graduate on time and remain in New York City, including 22 at SUNY Downstate, which is currently a COVID-only hospital.

Medical students at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo will graduate on time, with 23 students expected to begin working in New York City and Long Island.

In all, SUNY’s medical schools will graduate 618 students this spring. Among New York’s colleges and universities, SUNY graduates about one of three registered nurses, one of seven dentists, and one of eight physicians licensed in New York State are SUNY graduates.

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is The First Hospital in The New York Region to Receive a Message of Encouragement From Former First Lady Michelle Obama

With several hundred SUNY Downstate frontline doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, lab technicians, and other healthcare and essential workers providing direct and indirect care to our patients at the University Hospital at Downstate, messages of hope and encouragement are necessary to help keep their spirits up.

A continuous outpouring of messages, cards, letters, and the generosity of others providing meals and donating critical PPE helps our frontline leaders know that they are significantly supported in their fight to save as many patients as possible.

Several influential individuals are sharing words of hope and encouragement for frontline and other healthcare workers. Former First Lady Michelle Obama is recording such messages for regional distribution.

We are proud that SUNY Downstate is the first hospital in the New York region to receive Mrs. Obama’s message.

We are grateful to President Obama and Mrs. Obama for acknowledging the efforts of first responders, frontline, and other healthcare workers in New York. Mrs. Obama’s message includes words of gratitude, empathy, and compassion.

We are honored to receive this message of encouragement on behalf of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University because we are all in this together.

Listen to Mrs. Obama’s Message of Encouragement for New York Healthcare Workers

SUNY Downstate Accepting Donations of Critical Medical Supplies

Inquiries can be sent to

In response to an outpouring of generosity by our community to donate critical medical supplies, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University – University Hospital at Downstate has established a special email that be contacted by anyone interested in making donations.

SUNY Downstate will accept donations of the following critical medical supplies:

  • Personal Protect Equipment - PPE
  • N95 masks
  • Surgical Masks
  • Goggles
  • Face Shields
  • Gowns
  • Any Medical Respiratory Equipment

Anyone interested in donating should send an email to

Please include information about the organization making the donation, the origin of the supplies, the type and quantity of supplies you would like to donate, and information about whether those supplies can be delivered or be picked up by SUNY Downstate, as well as a contact telephone number and email address.

SUNY Downstate – University Hospital at Downstate had been designated by Governor Cuomo as COVID-19 only facility.

“We appreciate the generosity of our community in supporting our mission to provide the highest level of care that our patients, their families and the community needs and expects,” said Wayne J. Riley, M.D., President of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. “It is exactly the type of unity and coming together that Governor Cuomo is calling for, and a hallmark of our community here in Brooklyn and the people of New York.”

Statement on University Hospital at Downstate Designated by Governor Cuomo As a COVID-19 Only Facility

The United States has surpassed Italy and China with over 100,000 coronavirus cases; more than 52,000 cases are in New York State, nearly 30,000 are in New York City, and more than 7,000 cases are in Brooklyn.

SUNY Downstate is answering Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s directive to prepare University Hospital at Downstate as a COVID-19 only facility. We are working closely with neighboring hospitals to transfer patients and continue the highest level of care that our patients, their families, and the community expect.

Our heroes on the front lines and other essential staff are working around the clock to care for COVID-19 patients and those with related symptoms. We will work tirelessly with our partners at every level to prepare for the challenges ahead, and stand ready with them to meet those efforts with perseverance and compassion to combat the anticipated COVID-19 apex and save lives.

University Hospital at Downstate’s dedicated medical, nursing, respiratory therapy, environmental services, and other professional staff remain ready to care for COVID-19 patients as we had been doing since our first patient a few weeks ago.

Wayne J. Riley, M.D.
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Coronavirus Preparedness

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illnesses such as the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). In 2019, a new coronavirus was identified as the cause of a disease outbreak in China. The virus is now known as the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), or coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

It is unclear exactly how contagious the new coronavirus is, though it appears to be spreading from person to person among those in close contact. It may be spread by respiratory droplets released when someone who has the virus coughs or sneezes.

Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in a growing number of countries, including the U.S. Public health groups, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are monitoring the situation and posting updates on their websites. These groups have also issued recommendations for preventing and treating the illness.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure and can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe. Like other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza, people who are older or have existing medical conditions, such as heart disease, may be at higher risk of serious illness.

If you think you may have had contact with a person who has been ill and you have respiratory symptoms that include fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing among others, we urge you to call your healthcare provider immediately so they can assess your symptoms and take necessary precautions to avoid the potential spread of germs during your appointment.

Although there is no vaccine presently available to prevent infection with the new coronavirus, you can take steps to reduce your risk of infection. The following recommendations are standard precautions for avoiding respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if your hands aren't clean.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid sharing dishes, glasses, bedding, and other household items if you're sick.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces you often touch.
  • Stay home from work, school, and public areas if you're sick.