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Supervisor: 5 East End towns to seek limits on travel from NYC

The Shinnecock Indian Nation warns about the 14-day

The Shinnecock Indian Nation warns about the 14-day quarantine on a billboard on Route 27 in Southampton on Wednesday. Credit: Southampton Town / Jay Schneiderman

The supervisors of five East End Long Island towns are preparing a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo requesting help in controlling a recent inundation of their communities by New York City residents fleeing a coronavirus hot spot, according to one of the supervisors.

Southampton Town has seen its residency spike to summer levels, and its confirmed cases of coronavirus increase to 58 cases from just two over several days, said Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

“We’re feeling overwhelmed and we’re concerned about our population spiking, and we’re concerned that New York City is a hot spot and will increase the incident rate locally as more people come out,” he said.

Grocery stores have faced the challenge of restocking shelves and the Southampton Hospital has only around 124 beds.

Schneiderman said he is working with the supervisors of East Hampton, Shelter Island, Southold and Riverhead to craft a letter asking the governor to limit nonessential travel from points west, particularly from New York City.

“We’re getting a lit bit nervous and I think rightfully so,” said Schneiderman. “It’s tough enough to handle the people who are already here.”

Cuomo at a briefing Thursday said, “Counties can come with whatever suggestion they want,” but added, “I don’t have any [plan] of mandating a travel ban on my agenda.”

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Southampton has reached out to the Shinnecock Nation to display a message on its Sunrise Highway monument/billboard about the “Federal Advisory” to New York City-area travelers of a “recommended 14-day in-home quarantine.”

Bryan Polite, chairman of the Shinnecock Nation trustees, confirmed the outreach, and the concern. “We have been invaded out here,” he said in a text.

Schneiderman said the town isn’t calling for an all-out travel ban.

“We’re not directly saying shut down New York City,” Schneiderman said. “Just consider limitations on nonessential travel … If someone wants to come out and shelter in place and follow the 14-day quarantine, I think that’s acceptable, though we have limited capacity at hospitals and grocery stores.”

He suggested a two-week restriction on unnecessary travel, though he had questions about how such a restriction would be enforced.

“Certainly I would assist the governor’s team in helping them strategize,” said Schneiderman.

Representatives for Southold, Shelter Island and East Hampton couldn't immediately be reached for comment. 

Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar in a statement noted the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "has asked people who may have been exposed or may be symptomatic to quarantine and limit travel across the entire nation in an effort to limit exposure. Limiting non-essential travel is currently practiced across our entire nation and advisable by the CDC.  Therefore, what is the so-called problem?"

She added, "We have a large elderly population in Riverhead. They are the most vulnerable. Our goal is to save lives, assist the community in every way possible, while maintaining the security, welfare and safety of all Riverhead residents."

--With Yancey Roy and Michael Gormley 

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