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This message was sent to the Rockefeller community from the Office of the President on March 13, 2020 at 12:08 p.m.
Subject: COVID-19 Update
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Dear colleagues,

The Rockefeller University continues to work to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our community, and our top priority remains the health and well-being of our community as we continue to advance our research and education missions.

The increasing numbers of cases in the New York City region, nationally and globally, is certainly distressing. The Rockefeller response team is meeting daily to evaluate conditions and make decisions that are informed by guidance from city, state and national agencies in addition to input from key University stakeholders and information about our own institution’s status and needs.

Changing circumstances over the last few days have led us to revise our travel instructions, on-campus events policy and visitors policy.

Because of the new restrictions on access to our campus that limit non-Rockefeller personnel, we ask that every member of our community: (1) display their RU ID badge to Security when entering the main entrance; (2) not admit others through turnstiles or other ID card-activated entrances using your ID; and (3) pick up food and other personal deliveries to campus yourself at the main entrance.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in NYC increases, it is critical to increase use of social distancing in all settings to minimize the risk of becoming infected or transmitting the virus. Social distancing typically means staying 3 – 6 feet from others in the workplace or in public, and minimizing prolonged exposure to large numbers of people. To that end, the University has cancelled all events involving large groups, is providing virtual participation options for meetings, classes and presentations when possible, and is encouraging and facilitating telecommuting and flexible work schedules. We have also closed the Abby Dining Room and the Faculty and Student Club. The Bass Dining Commons and the CRC Café will remain open today but will only offer take-out food items. Starting Monday, March 16th, the CRC Café will be closed as well.

Beginning tomorrow, Saturday, March 14th, the Founder’s Hall 6th floor gym and workout area will be restricted to scheduled physical therapy sessions only. All fitness classes are cancelled and use of squash court is banned until further notice. For those who use the gym today or for physical therapy sessions going forward, we ask that you be diligent in following appropriate gym hygiene procedures, using available disinfectant wipes to wipe down equipment and machine surfaces after your use. Custodial Services has increased the frequency of cleaning in the gym but this is not a substitute for the individual wipe-downs that users need to complete after their workouts.

Another important element of a social distancing strategy is to work remotely if possible. Supervisors should assess whether job responsibilities can be conducted remotely and work with staff members to arrange for staff to work from home when possible. This will reduce exposure to both telecommuters and staff on campus.

The University has expanded telemedicine options and coordinated with our health insurance carriers to minimize or eliminate out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 related medical expenses. Questions about these benefits programs should be directed to Human Resources. The University also has programs and assistance for dealing with the stress and anxiety that the disruptions caused by this disease can cause. If you have questions about these programs, call the Occupational Health Services Office: 212-327-8414

The primary methods for preventing infection continue to be:

  • Staying home if you are sick.
  • Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Covering your cough or sneeze.
  • Staying informed. We will continue to update the University website with the latest information and guidance.

If you have additional questions, please send emails to

Thank you for your patience, understanding, and cooperation as we face this challenge as a community.

Ashley Foo, M.S., ANP-BC
Director, Occupational Health Services

Thomas P. Sakmar, M.D.
Richard M. & Isabel P. Furlaud Professor
Physician Consultant, Occupational Health Services

Virginia Huffman
Vice President, Human Resources

Timothy P. O’Connor, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President

Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.