COVID-19 numbers stable; fireworks canceled for summer

Island COVID cases remain stable from what they were last week, but following protocols from New York State a number of restrictions of activities must remain in place, at least for the moment.

Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams said Suffolk County is reporting 54 cases on Shelter Island while Police Chief Jim Read has said he believes the numbers are likely in the 70s based on anecdotal information he has of residents who may have residences listed elsewhere, but be on the Island at least part-time. One student athlete tested positive this week, both the school and town reported. A cross-section of volunteers among students and staff are tested weekly, with only that one student receiving positive results.

At last week’s Shelter Island POD vaccination event, 585 residents, including a number of students, received first doses of the Pfizer vaccine and they are all scheduled for their second inoculations on April 28, Ms. Brach-Williams said. Everyone on the waiting list except for a few who couldn’t be reached were able to be inoculated, she said. She noted that 60% of those inoculated last week have Island addresses and 32% were Hispanic.

Supervisor Gerry Siller noted that Ms. Brach-Williams and Sara Mundy from Senior Services worked until midnight the night before the POD to contact people for inoculations.

Board of Education President Kathleen Lynch attributed the rise in Hispanic residents being inoculated to the efforts of bilingual school business assistant Ramona Orgass, who called all Spanish-speaking families to encourage them to get vaccinated. Art teacher Catherine Brigham assisted and the result was inoculations given to several students who were 16. The two assisted people at the school gym as they arrived for inoculations.

Anyone still not inoculated should register with Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, Ms. Brach-Willliams said.

With all the good news, comes word that some events can’t happen this year.

Primary among them is the annual fireworks display that, until last summer, occurred on the weekend after July 4. But organizer Brett Surerus and town officials agreed that an event that could easily have attracted 10,000 people to Crescent Beach couldn’t happen this year. Based on the safety factor, Mr. Surerus said while he felt disappointed, he had to err on the side of caution and hope that the summer of 2022 will enable the show to go on.

Mr. Siller said safety is paramount, but another reason for not pushing forward is because it would be a bad time for fundraising to pay for the fireworks. Mr. Surerus, named the Reporter’s Person of the Year in January for leading efforts to raise money to feed medical workers during the pandemic and helping to sustain local restaurants, needed to continue those efforts and not try to funnel money to a fireworks display.

With plans outlined last week, a scaled down 10K has the go-ahead for June 19.

But the Memorial Day parade was canceled, a decision made by members of the American Legion Post. In its place, there will be what Councilman Jim Colligan called an appropriate memorial service. Details on that event are expected to be announced next week.

Both the Green Expo and Arts & Crafts fair traditionally held in August are expected to go forward but will be limited to 200 people in line with current state guidelines. Those visiting either event will have to be staged so there are no huge crowds. Tim Purtell, chairman of the town’s Green Options Committee, said he is working out details with various exhibitors. Janalyn Travis-Messer is to work out details of how she will stage the Arts & Crafts Fair on the front school grounds.

The congregate senior meals served on Mondays and Fridays at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church hall are still on hold pending Suffolk County approval. But the Senior Circle that gathers at the Senior Center for activities and lunch on Wednesday is underway. Participants must have proof of vaccination to attend and the same requirement will be in place for the senior lunches when they resume, Mr. Siller said.