Featured Story

UPDATE: Two Island COVID-19 cases hospitalized

It was learned Saturday that the two hospitalized individuals had passed away from the illness. See story, this site.

The original story appears below.

“Don’t let our guards down.”

Those were the words of Police Chief Jim Read, the town’s emergency management coordinator, at Tuesday’s Town Hall informational meeting on the Island’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The chief announced that Shelter Island presently has two confirmed cases of the virus and both people are now hospitalized. Another person who has had the virus has “been cleared and is now back to normal activities,” the chief said.

Chief Read, along with Supervisor Gerry Siller, urged residents to be vigilant in practicing best practices to keep themselves and others safe.

The meeting was physically closed to the public to maintain social distancing, similar to other meetings during the health crisis. But it was live-streamed over the internet, available on the video conferencing service Zoom, and broadcast on Channel 22.

The town had requested that people arriving from the New York metropolitan area self-quarantine for 14 days. But that request has been changed to anyone who is arriving on the Island from anywhere, including renters and all second-homeowners. It was mentioned that Florida is a “hotspot” for the virus, and many Islanders go there for the winter months, so they, too, should self-quarantine when they get home.

Dr. Peter Kelt is seeing patients at the Medical Center on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday and Fridays from 8 am. to 4 p.m., Mr. Siller said. The doctor is seeing his regular patients and some new ones, but is not administering any tests for the virus, which had been announced previously by the Town Board. Dr. Kelt had been working with a nurse practitioner who has been transferred to a Riverhead drive-through testing site.

Mr. Siller said for the time being, there will be no medical professional at the Center when Dr. Kelt is not in.

Drive-through testing is by appointment only and available at Stony Brook University and in Riverhead at 1149 Old Country Road. If you have symptoms of the virus (high fever, dry cough), call 1-888-364-3065 for Stony Brook, and for Riverhead, phone 516-874-0411. First responders will have preferred scheduling.

The chief reiterated his call for Islanders who have symptoms or have been tested for the coronavirus to contact him at 631-749-0600, or Emergency Services Medical Director Dr. Frank Adipietro at 631-477-5353.

This is so ambulance crews and other first responders will be aware if someone in the residence could be infected with the illness, and they can then put on appropriate protective gear.

Chief Read said Islanders should strive to follow the Centers for Disease Control and wear “homemade face coverings” when in public, rather than go online to purchase masks that must be preserved for first responders and health care professionals.

Other information:

• The confusion over what the state has designated as an “essential” business, meaning what can stay operational, particularly when the edict pertains to the construction industry, was again defined by Mr. Siller.

All construction, except for infrastructure projects, is shut down, except where there is a single person working at a job site.

Landscaping maintenance and pest control are “deemed essential,” Mr. Siller said, as well as the real estate business.

The supervisor noted that realtors should be responsible and notify clients that, if they come to the Island to look at properties, they will be subject to the 14-day quarantine rule and should work on line with the real estate professional.

• There have been complaints that the Post Offices’ doors have remained closed. “It’s an issue,” Mr. Siller said. “We’re addressing it.”

Councilman Jim Colligan noted that the offices “need better air flow” for people dropping by and they shouldn’t have to worry about touching door handles.

• The Recycling Center/Landfill is closed Tuesdays and Thursdays, but open all other days from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Plastic and cardboard will be accepted in the proper bins, but will not be recycled, to protect Highway Department employees at the site.

• The town, school and the Lions Club are partnering to get people who don’t have computers and/or WIFI connected for informational purposes. Chief Read said the project was just starting, but with reports that the virus could diminish and then reappear in the fall, the town is preparing to have all residents connected online.

• Councilman Albert Dickson reported that the two banks in town are “responding” to what’s available for small business loans. The local Chase Bank, the councilman said, is waiting for direction from its corporate headquarters, and Bridgehampton National Bank is soliciting information from business owners and submitting the information to its regional office.

• Superintendent of Schools Brian Doelger, Ed.D. said the “distance learning” program and food and material deliveries to students’ residences are working well. He noted that the home schooling “has taken a toll on some parents,” especially those who are working from home.

Next week was scheduled for spring break, but the governor has ordered the break cancelled. Mr. Doelger said that there will be a light schedule for most students and it will give some of them time to complete work assigned but overdue without penalty.

The first week of distance learning found some parents and students “overwhelmed,” he said, and next week will be a time to make up their assignments. There will also be “fun” projects for parents and teachers next week, including sending photos of the whole family in pajamas for the school community to share.

Town Assessor Craig Wood, who has also organized the online meetings and IT services, asked Mr. Doelger if instead there could be an “everybody get dressed” day, which brought laughs from the participants.

• Chief Read stressed that anyone needing information call 311, a non-emergency number set up by Suffolk County. He also cited a new email for questions on the virus: [email protected] For questions and concerns he recommended the town’s website, shelterislandtown.us/ and a newly launched town Facebook page.