Understanding COVID-19: A Panel Discussion on the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

As New York State galvanizes for the inevitable rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, NYU School of Global Public Health was privileged to hear directly from Dr. Howard Zucker, MD, JD, Commissioner of Health for New York State and Chief Physician in charge of the COVID-19 response in New York.

Dr. Zucker gave a situation overview of New York State’s preparedness and engaged with GPH panelists and faculty experts in epidemiology, Drs. Cheryl Healton, Michael Merson, Elodie Ghedin, and Joshua Epstein. Dr. Zucker outlined NY State’s action plans, and key measures in response to COVID-19. Tapping from a deep well of lessons learned from the last decade, Dr. Zucker illustrated the expertise, experience and flexibility of New York State’s COVID-19 plan.

Since 2010, the Department has continuously developed and refined our influenza pandemic preparedness and other response efforts. This history of preparedness puts New York State in a solid place as we face a possible COVID-19 pandemic.
- Howard Zucker, MD, JD

During the panel discussion and questions from the audience key aspects of a successful response were considered such as the critical importance of crisis communication and education; and social cultural considerations such as combatting any anti-Asian racism and fears in immigrant communities about seeking help if sick.

I can speak for New York, that we will make sure that everyone is cared for and they should not let anything jeopardize their ability to get quality healthcare if they're sick.
- Howard Zucker, MD, JD

Is New York ready? The answer is yes. New York has experts, and detailed plans. Crucially it also has strong partnerships and collaborations at the national, state, city and community levels built and strengthened over many years working on pandemic preparedness plans.

Whatever threat that the coronavirus ultimately presents, we know that New York State and local governments and members of the community can all work together successfully against a common foe, and the strength of character, the spirit of community, and the smarts of collective wisdom, can conquer the challenges any virus that nature sends our way.
- Howard Zucker, MD, JD

New York State Department of Health has an information hotline for those seeking more information:  1-888-364-3065 and a dedicated webpage: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/

We are grateful to Dr. Zucker for his tireless efforts in keeping everyone informed. The GPH event was attended by a full house at maximum capacity by the GPH community, NYU community, members of the public and press. Stay tuned for more GPH events on COVID-19.

Coronavirus event photo collage