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Town officials give update on Shelter Island coronavirus situation


“We’re ahead of the curve on a lot of things,” Supervisor Gerry Siller said at a Town Hall informational meeting Friday afternoon. “Lots of things we’ve put in place the county is still talking about.”


He was speaking about procedures to protect Shelter Island residents from the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The meeting was closed to the public, similar to two other meetings, but live-streamed over the internet and then broadcast on Channel 22.

First case reported

Information about the first case of COVID-19 case reported in connection to Shelter Island came after the meeting via a press release from Detective Sergeant Jack Thilberg, the press officer for the town, which stated: “The Town of Shelter Island has been updated as to the releasable information related to the person connected to Shelter Island, that had tested positive for the COVID-19. The subject is a 75-year-old male, who is admitted and being treated at a hospital. The Suffolk County Health Department is responsible for investigation and follow-up to determine if any other person(s) may have been in contact with or exposed to the subject and react according to Health Department protocols.”

School update

Friday’s Town Hall meeting led off with Superintendent of Schools Brian Doelger saying that food deliveries of breakfast and lunch are going out “every single day” to children who depend on meals provided at school.

Deliveries of chrome books and iPads have been sent to those children and parents who need them for the school’s “distance learning” program. Also, families without internet access have been connected.

Mr. Doelger announced that beginning Monday, two school classrooms will open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for daycare for parents working in essential services. This category includes first responders, healthcare employees, people in the food industry and others. It is by appointment only, and for more information, call the school at (631) 749-0302.

During the meeting, Det. Thilberg, announced that “all town playgrounds, and the Shelter Island School playgrounds, have been closed.”

Medical updates

As reported earlier by the Reporter, PA John Reilly, an Island resident, said that Islanders who would like a medical professional to visit for an evaluation should call 631-537-1892 to make an appointment for after 6 p.m. That number is at the office of the Meeting House Lane Medical Practice in Southampton.

The PA emphasized that this is not for COVID-19 coronavirus testing. PA Reilly said, if there are enough calls, “eventually we could come to the Island during the day” to make visits.

Dr. Peter Kelt will be in the Medical Center on Monday, March 23, and will begin by seeing Medicare patients, the supervisor said. The Center will not be fully staffed, Mr. Siller said, for at least a month.

Food services

Police Chief Jim Read, who is the town’s emergency management coordinator, said there has been no disruption of food services, and that the IGA has initiated special hours for senior citizens to shop from 7 to 9 a.m.

Meals formally served at the Senior Center will now be delivered to senior citizens and left on their porches, Chief Read said.

Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams reported that the food pantry at the Presbyterian Church for people in need, is well-stocked.

Pastor Robert Griffin told the Reporter Friday that there will be someone at the pantry who will take orders and deliver it to the person at the site. Ms. Brach-Williams said there will be a number for those who can’t go to the pantry and orders will be filled. There will also be an option for Spanish speakers. For information, email [email protected] or call 631-749-0805.

Recycling Center

Mr. Siller announced that the Recycling Center will not accept cardboard and plastic for the safety of the employees, and the Center’s gates will be closed at times to empty filled bins and then clean them before the gates are reopened.

Shelter Island businesses

Ms. Brach-Williams directed Island business owners to the Suffolk County Business Recovery Unit, a clearinghouse for “questions and resources related to impacts as a result of COVID 19 and “data collection for economic and workforce impacts.”

“This is a great resource,” Ms. Brach-Williams said, and suggested business owners go to suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/Economic-Development-and-Planning/Business-Recovery-Unit for more information.

Ferries

A major priority for the town and the ferry companies is to keep them up and running, Chief Read said.

Anyone who suspects they might have contracted the coronavirus and are going off-Island for treatment should stop at Police Department headquarters where they will receive a pass that can be scanned through a closed window by deckhands on North Ferry boats, and a piece of paper that can be held up for a crew member on South Ferry boats to see through a closed window.

This is to protect the employees, the chief said. Both ferry companies are cleaning boats regularly and crew members are practicing safe practices of cleanliness. Passengers should respect the employees, the chief added, and do the same.

Restaurants

Restaurants that are open this time of year remain open, but for takeout, curbside service only. Marie Eiffel Market announced it would open for curbside service beginning this Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Post Offices

Responding to questions, the chief said the Post Offices are open, and to “look to the Postal service for guidance.” Town mail is picked up by one person and placed in a room, unopened, for 24 hours, Mr. Siller said.

Town officials have suggested the Post Offices keep the doors open so residents don’t have to grab a door handle when going in and out.

Helping hands

Channel 22 will be broadcasting programs from the Recreation Department for people who are spending a lot of time indoors, especially seniors, officials said.

Chief Read asked the public to be aware of, as he put it, “people on the fringe,” who may be having extra problems coping with the crisis. “Reach out to those who need help, “ he said, and directed them to the town’s social worker, Lucille Buergers, at 631-749-0302 ext. 151, or email at [email protected]

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