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Shelter Island shutting down to protect against virus: Town, School officials meet

At an extraordinary Town Hall meeting last night called to update residents on the town’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus, Police Chief Jim Read noted Islander’s resiliency during and after blizzards.

“But this is not a winter storm,” Chief Read said. “This is winter.”

The gathering was attended by school and town officials, with the public excluded from the meeting room for their own protection against the highly contagious illness, but it was live streamed on the internet and then was available on channel 22.

Every official called for residents to remain calm, but exercise caution in the face of the pandemic. There are no reported cases of COVID-19 on the Island as yet, Chief Read reported. “We want to slow the virus,” the chief said. “We know we can’t stop it.”

He noted that “we’re not alone” and that there is “multi-agency coordination” with Shelter Island School, Police, Fire and Highway departments, all in constant communication, as well as with the Department of Senior Services for the town.

Announcements were made that the Island is basically shutting down public events and places. School Superintendent Brian Doelger announced that, on the recommendation of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, school will be closed Friday and then an opening date will be evaluated. Teaching remotely will be available to students.

Extensive, deep cleaning will be ongoing at the school through the weekend, Mr. Doelger said.

When school reopens, Mr. Doelger said, there will be no penalties imposed if parents want to keep their children at home.

For those students who depend on school meals, deliveries will be made to their homes, the school superintendent said. SAT testing will be cancelled on Saturday. The opening night of the school play later this month will most likely be cancelled, but there are dates later in the spring that are being considered, Mr. Doelger said. School Athletic Director Todd Gullusico said it’s a slack time for school sports, but all events have been cancelled.

The Board of Education meeting for Monday, March 16 will take place with the public excluded, Board President Kathleen Lynch said, and the same applies to the Town Board work session on Tuesday, March 17. Both meetings will be live-streamed over the internet at townhallstreams.com.

The Library, FIT Center, Youth and Recreation centers will be closed, as will most events, such as the St. Patrick’s Day Dinner and the Fire Department’s steak dinner. The Senior Center is closed, but volunteers will take older folks shopping, or do it for them. For more information, call the Center at 631-749-1059.

As for medical service on the Island, Supervisor Gerry Siller said Dr. Peter Kelt is hoping to open his office at the medical center by March 22, but that was not certain. The town’s website gave this information: “Dr. Kelt has transitioned his practice to Pro HEALTH. Medical records can be obtained by calling Greenport Primary Care, an NYU/Winthrop facility @ 631-477-0070. If needed, you could also call this number to set up an appointment with Greenport Primary Care. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.”

Chief Read said the best way to receive other information is to call Suffolk County’s non-emergency service at 311.

School Nurse Mary Kanarvogel gave a report on the COVID-19 virus, and steps to take to avoid contracting the illness, such as constant and thorough washing of hands; maintaining distance from others; and, if you’re feeling ill, to stay home.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified in Congress on Thursday that COVID-19 “is 10 times more lethal than the lethal flu.”

With several town departments shutting down, Supervisor Gerry Siller said town employees will be reassigned and “we’ll keep everyone employed.”

Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams said that the Food Pantry at the Presbyterian Church will be constantly restocked for Islanders who are “food insecure” and for those who will have to stay home from work for an extended period of time and miss paychecks.

Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital issues safety precautions

Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital Chief Administrative Officer Paul Connor released a memo Thursday evening detailing proactive measures being taken at the hospital regarding COVID-19 coronavirus.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

• In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all non-hospital personnel will be verbally screened upon entry to the hospital.

• Visitation has been significantly halted with no visitors allowed for adult patients, emergency patients and outpatient and ambulatory surgeries, with some exceptions for emergency and surgical patients requiring assistance. Pediatric patients will be allowed one adult visitor.

• The hospital also shared links for information.

For updated Coronavirus FAQs and information from Stony Brook experts, visit https://elih.stonybrookmedicine.edu/Coronavirus.

New York Department of Health Website: https://www.health.ny.gov/