As more and more states begin to relax stay-at-home orders, we are all getting anxious to return to work in our laboratories. However, current trends indicate that COVID-19 is likely to be with us for an extended period, and this means that social distancing will also become part of our ongoing experience.
Infection rates, particularly in Monroe county, remain low. The good news is that our health care system is not being over-run; the bad news is, we will be slow to develop “herd” immunity, and, as a community, will remain susceptible to reinfection, the so-called second wave, for some time.
As you are likely aware, New York is taking a very systematic and measured approach to the reopening process. The University is in the process of requesting permission from NYS to resume limited research activities under strict social distancing guidelines. Until NYS gives us approval, all laboratories must remain shut down unless a specific exemption has been approved by the relevant research dean.
When NYS does allow us to resume research activity, it will only be under conditions where social distancing can be maintained.
Guidelines for maintaining social distance in laboratory settings are being formulated by the offices of the research deans or other leadership in different schools and units. Some of these have been shared, others will be shared shortly. After permission for reopening is obtained from NYS (and this will almost certainly not occur before May 16), it will be critical to abide by these social distancing guidelines as we resume limited research activities, first and foremost, to maintain the health and safety of our research community, and also to avoid losing our permission to engage in research activities.
Thank you all for your continued patience and cooperation during this difficult period.
Robert L. Clark, Provost