Two extraordinary Town Hall meetings in the past week were called to update residents on the town’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The two meetings were attended by school and town officials, with the public excluded to protect against the highly contagious illness, but the informational sessions were live-streamed on the internet and then available on Channel 22. Other virtual meetings are scheduled for Friday, March 20 and Tuesday, March 24. Both are scheduled for 1 p.m. and available at townhallstreams.com.
Every official called for residents to remain calm, but to exercise caution in the face of the pandemic. There are no reported cases of COVID-19 on the Island by the Reporter’s press time, Chief Read reported. “We want to slow the virus,” he said. “We know we can’t stop it.”
He noted that “we’re not alone,” since 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. He is in constant touch with Suffolk County authorities.
Announcements were made that the Island is shutting down public events and places. School Superintendent Brian Doelger announced that, on the recommendation of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, school was closed March 13 and an opening date will be evaluated. Teaching remotely will be available to students.
School Athletic Director Todd Gullusico said every sports event has been cancelled.
The Library, FIT Center, Youth and Recreation centers are closed. The Senior Center is closed, but volunteers will take folks shopping, or do it for them. For more information, call the Center at 631-749-1059.
At Tuesday’s virtual meeting, Supervisor Gerry Siller had some news on the town’s medical situation. Dr. Peter Kelt plans to reopen his practice at the Medical Center on the afternoon of Monday, March 23. The Center should be fully staffed by April 15, the supervisor said. In addition, a physician’s assistant is in the process of making plans to be available for house calls on the Island, Mr. Siller reported.
The town’s website gave this information: “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.”
Mr. Siller said that with town services shut down, some town employees will be reassigned and “we’ll keep everyone employed.”
All town departments are open, but only via phone or email. The supervisor is the only member of the Town Board at Town Hall. The Town Clerk’s office is staffed by one official.
Chief Read urged all residents to apply to get “Code Red” for emergency updates. The town is equipped to get information out rapidly to all residents through the Code Red system, but they must register to get important updates. The free service contacts residents with important information and directions through multiple platforms, including voicemail, texts, email, social media and a mobile alert app. Contact the town on how to get connected.
Other information at the meetings included:
• Chief Read said the best way to receive other information is to call Suffolk County’s non-emergency service at 311.
• The Library is offering online services, including education courses. Call 631-749-0042.
• Restaurants are open for phone orders and take-out with curbside service.
• The IGA is open and getting daily deliveries, but Chief Read cautioned against hoarding.
• The pharmacy is open and stocked, but out of hand sanitizers.
• Shelter Island Town Justice Court is closed until further notice. Court business will be conducted in Central Islip.
• Work is being done to ensure safe procedures at the Recycling Center for residents and employees.
• 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. Residents should not hoard.
• Some local businesses are open and residents are advised to “buy local.”
Contact information on coronavirus
Town Hall — 631-749-0015
Senior Services — 631-749-1059
Shelter Island School — 631-749-0302
Shelter Island Public Library — 631-749-0042
Greenport Primary Care — 631-477-0070
Suffolk County Call Center Coronavirus Q & A — 311
Latest developments and health guidance — Suffolk residents can text COVIDSUFFOLK to 67283