As NYC Residents Flee To Long Island To Avoid COVID-19, White House Suggests They Self-Isolate

2020-03-19T182835Z_1875770560_RC26NF9S84O4_RTRMADP_3_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-NEW-YORK (1)
A Car Appearance Maintainer with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) demonstrates the disinfecting methods of a train car from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Hicksville Station on Long Island in New York, U.S., March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The White House Coronavirus Task Force advised Tuesday that anyone who has recently traveled to or from New York City should isolate themselves for two weeks to prevent spreading the disease — just as city residents have been fleeing to Long Island to avoid infection.

Residents are reportedly flocking to their second homes in the Hamptons and officials on Fire Island have urged seasonal homeowners not to try to self-quarantine on the car-free barrier island accessible only by boat, where basic services are scarce in the off-season — but year-round FI residents report the ferries are packed with riders, which is unusual this time of year.

“Everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to others, no matter where they have gone, whether it’s Florida, North Carolina or out to far reaches of Long Island,” Deborah Birx, who is helping lead the White House coronavirus tax force, told reporters Tuesday.

Of the more than 30,000 cases in New York State — which has the most cases in the nation — more than half were reported in New York City and more than 5,000 were diagnosed on Long Island. Officials in other states have mandated anyone arriving on flights from New York be quarantined for 14 days.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said his administration has been in touch with East End food retailers and suppliers to ensure shelves are stocked for the additional crowds following an initial shortage due to the part-time homeowners arriving earlier than usual.

“There have been a lot of empty shelves out there,” he said.

The county executive also echoed Fire Island officials’ concerns about seasonal homeowners from New York City seeking isolation on the barrier island during a time of year when healthcare, government, and emergency services aren’t fully staffed.

“This isn’t a great time to be going to Fire Island,” he said, urging ferry riders to practice social distancing.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran also expressed concerned when asked about the White House advisory.

“We live right next to New York City, we’re right on the border, and we have family members who live in the city, who’ve been working in the city,” Curran said. “We are constantly commingling with people in New York City. That being said, if you have relatives coming to stay with you, perhaps they need to take a little extra care and stay away from people for a while.

“I don’t want this to turn into a suburbs versus the city thing,” she added. “We are all in this together. But if we all practice social distancing, isolating ourselves at home, we will get through this.”

-With Reuters

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