Helping NY Tackle COVID

Michael Bice

Alum honored for his role in helping to curb COVID in New York during the height of the pandemic.

College is a training ground to gain the knowledge, experience, and confidence to successfully tackle the moments that require action. Michael Bice ’92 left SUNY Brockport with all three and successfully applied his skillset during the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which he was recognized with an Empire Whole Health Hero honor.

Bice was an integral piece of getting New York to reopen amid the pandemic. As the incident commander he was responsible for the entire operation at the Javits Center, a New York City convention center that was repurposed as a field hospital for COVID patients before transitioning to a vaccination site in 2021. The Empire Whole Health Hero honor is conducted by Empire BlueCross BlueShield in partnership with Crain’s New York Business.

Michael Bice and wife “My mission was to establish the largest mass vaccination site in the country and to vaccinate as many people as logistically possible,” said Bice, who recently retired after nearly 32 years in the military reaching the rank of Colonel.

Colonel Bice, along with the assistance of Command Sergeant Major Robert Jenks, led a team of 750 military personnel and 700 civilians that administered more than 648,000 vaccines in less than six months. The Javits Center additionally served as a distribution hub of the vaccine, with shipments sent to the lower Hudson area but with deliveries also reaching as far west as Buffalo and Brockport.

“These folks that work for the Javits, the CEO (Alan Steel), corporate management team, and all the employees, they are phenomenal,” attested Bice. “We told them what we wanted and they made it happen, along with all the men and women, the front line workers. As a leader I get to sit here and talk to you and talk to the papers, but ultimately anything that I receive is a reflection to everything they did.”

Walking through businesses in New York City, Bice was recognized and thanked often for his contributions.

Michael Bice and son

“Going into New York City, with how large it is, walking into shops, restaurants, and stores and to have owners and their kids come up out of the blue,” said Bice, “and I’m not in uniform, and have them saying, ‘Hey this is the Colonel that saved our families life.’”

It meant a great deal to Bice that he was able to provide optimism to New Yorkers with the vaccination in comparison to treatment to those inflicted with the virus. He went from, ‘seeing the despair, seeing death, seeing families struggling’ to working with the team that helped ‘provide hope.’

Bice was able to connect with his family while serving as the incident commander too. His wife, Kelly, put together job fairs for service members and civilians that lost work in New York during COVID. His son, Dylan, joined the Air National Guard after completing active duty and reported to the Javits Center to help.

Many leadership skills that were crucial in the operations of the Javits Center as both a field hospital and vaccination site were forged at Brockport. Bice majored in physical education while earning minors in sport management and business, in addition to completing the ROTC program and competing with the Brockport rugby team.

“Looking back the leaders on that team and where we are today, they had a great impact and role in my leadership,” Bice shared when reflecting on his time with the Brockport Doggies (Eagles) rugby squad. “In my ability where I am today, it’s just about being strong and depending on one another to win and be champions. Honestly my greatest Brockport memories are with the Brockport rugby team, the Doggies.”

Michael Bice rugby Brockport doggies

In addition to nearly 32 years in the military, Bice has served as a New York State Trooper for the past 26 years.

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Author: Kevin Stiner


Posted: July 25, 2022