At President Trump’s Tuesday afternoon press conference, Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House’s coronavirus response team, made a comment about visitors to the East End of Long Island:
“Everybody who was in New York [City] should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure the virus doesn’t spread to others, no matter where they have gone, whether it’s Florida, North Carolina, or out to the far reaches of Long Island. We’re starting to see new cases across Long Island that suggest people have left the city. This will be very critical.”
Her message was heard.
On Wednesday, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said in a press release, “A new trend is taking place that puts our residents at further risk — people seeking refuge from the metropolitan areas. It is simple math: the more people that come, the greater the spread and the greater the confirmed cases.”
To that end, Mr. Russell said he is urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to issue a travel ban to the East End. The request will be made Thursday on behalf of the East End Mayors and Supervisors Association. Mr. Russell said most have their own police department and “would be happy to develop a coordinated plan of action with NYS” for enforcement.
“We have a limited number of stores trying to keep their shelves stocked and ration out supplies as best they can,” the supervisor said. “Local residents are finding it difficult to meet even their most basic needs. Unnecessary hoarding and the recent, sudden expansion of the population by those who come are making it far worse.”
Mr. Russell said overburdened hospitals will make it difficult for local residents to get the help they need. To head this off, Mr. Russell said he has joined together with Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman to urge the governor to limit “travel to only essential personnel.”
“Southold should NOT be treated as someone’s personal isolation unit,” Mr. Russell wrote in a statement. “This town is in a crisis. It is bound to get worse and sometimes draconian measures are necessary. A travel ban is one of those measures. For others who have decided to use Southold as a shelter, respect this community and stay inside.”