Following two Suffolk towns, eight more Long Island towns declared a state of emergency Friday due to the coronavirus outbreak.
North Hempstead in Nassau County and nine of 10 Suffolk towns have made the declaration, a measure officials said would give them greater flexibility to respond to urgent needs that arise from the ongoing health crisis.
Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer, who leads the county’s supervisors’ association, said the declaration was discussed during a Friday morning conference call with all 10 towns.
“This is not being done to scare anybody,” Schaffer said. “It’s mainly giving us the ability to do emergency procurements” of items such as cleaning products.
In Babylon, the town is bringing in outside cleaning companies to supplement staff, he said.
“We’re stressing that everybody needs to be calm,” Schaffer said. “This is almost like a [superstorm] Sandy situation where it’s something we have never experienced before.”
Southold Town on Thursday became the first to declare a state of emergency. Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci issued an executive order Thursday as well, declaring a disaster emergency and temporarily closing some town facilities.
While Babylon Town Hall will remain open and no one is being turned away, all board meetings will be livestreamed, and residents can participate online. Any “controversial” hearings will be postponed, Schaffer said.
Municipalities like Babylon, Northport Village, Long Beach City and North Hempstead have asked residents to limit their visits, use online services and call first.
In Riverhead, Town Hall will remain open on a limited basis, and the police department and Riverhead Town Court also will be open. But all town facilities and buildings are closed to the public until further notice.
Services for seniors, who are most susceptible to the virus, largely have been canceled or scaled back.
All group activities of more than 10 to 15 people are canceled in Babylon, Schaffer said, including gatherings at town senior centers. The centers will remain open and staffed, and individuals can come if they need services, but seniors are being encouraged to stay home.
The town is still evaluating how it will perform meal services, Schaffer said, but plans to continue to do it, and likely will provide meals that can be picked up or possibly delivered.
In Riverhead, in-house recreation programs and senior citizen in-house programs are canceled through March.
For senior residents, residential repairs through the expanded in-home services will be performed on a limited basis. Transportation requests for seniors will continue on a “very limited” basis, according to the statement posted by Supervisor Yvette Aguiar.
Going west to Nassau, North Hempstead has canceled town-run social events and senior programs through March 20. Many senior groups that meet in town parks, village halls and other facilities also have canceled or postponed their meetings and classes.
But senior services, such as rides for grocery shopping, nonemergency medical appointments and Meals on Wheels, under Project Independence, will continue, town spokesman Gordon Tepper said.
The Town of Hempstead closed all 14 senior centers starting Friday evening, the Echo Park Pool in West Hempstead and the Newbridge Indoor Ice Rink arena in Bellmore. Town officials said this week that the senior centers would be sterilized.
Glen Cove has suspended all activities at the city senior center until at least March 31, and beginning Monday will suspend all after-school activities at its youth bureau indefinitely due to COVID-19, city officials announced Friday.
Long Beach city officials closed the city’s recreation center, the Magnolia Senior Center and day care center, the MLK Center and the West End Community Center. The city also canceled all youth and senior programs.
With John Asbury and Ted Phillips
Towns that declared a state of emergency
- North Hempstead
- Shelter Island
- East Hampton