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Monday, March 9, 2020

From the Vice President for Finance and Management

Posted: Monday, March 9, 2020

A Message from New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker

I am sharing with you the following message from New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker:

March 3, 2020
Dear Fellow State Employees:

I know you are concerned about novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the risk this poses to you and your family.

As your State Health Commissioner and a longtime practicing physician, I want to assure you that the risk from this virus to New Yorkers remains low. You likely heard in the media, that New York identified its first two cases of COVID-19 on March 1st. Despite this, the risk for contracting the virus is still low in New York State. People most at risk are those who have traveled internationally in the past 14 days or have been in close contact with an international traveler in the same timeframe.

The State Health Department is working across the state to ensure plans are in place to minimize the spread of the virus. However, it is important to note that spread in the community is expected, but we can be successful by taking small steps to help contain it.

Cold and flu viruses are much more prevalent in New York right now. You are far more likely to contract one of these viruses than the novel coronavirus. You already know the steps to take to stop the spread of all of these viruses.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, especially before you eat.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • And if you feel sick, stay home.

Many people are asking what they can do to prepare if the virus becomes prevalent in NY. One thing to do is to update your home preparedness kit. You should have a thermometer, decongestants, anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen for fevers on hand.

Another thing to do is to get your information from reliable sources.

The Department of Health has fielded numerous calls from individuals inquiring about the use of face masks. CDC does not recommend the use of face masks or N95 respirators among the general public. We need to preserve the use of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers and individuals who may be ill.

Take the important steps included above and stay home when you feel ill, avoid contact people who are ill, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and wash your hands often with soap and water.

I know that medical disinformation and hateful, hurtful rumors are circulating on the internet. New Yorkers can access accurate, reliable and up-to-date information on the Department of Health's website: You can also find reliable information and updates about the virus on the website and social media platforms of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

In New York State, we stick together when we face a challenge and work together.


Howard A. Zucker, M.D., J.D.
Commissioner of Health