Coronavirus Updates: States of Emergency; Schools to Close

Update March 15, 4:30 p.m.

Northwell Health has announced it is cancelling elective surgeries and procedures performed in its hospitals through April 15

Update March 15, 11 a.m.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell confirmed Sunday morning that there are now 18 positive cases of coronavirus in Southold Town.

The Southold School District confirmed Saturday night that a staff member has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

“We are awaiting direction from The Suffolk County Health Department in terms of next steps as far as a continuing investigation with this case,” said Southold School Superintendent David Gamberg in a message to parents. “We are cancelling the staff conference day on Tuesday, March 17.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has ordered all Suffolk County Schools be closed from tomorrow, Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27.

“There is evidence that the virus is already present in many communities we serve, and our efforts now must be aimed at preventing its spread. As part of our larger social distancing efforts, we believe that closing schools is the right thing to do at this time,” said Mr. Bellone. “While kids are home from school we encourage parents to continue to follow County Health Department guidance and practice social distancing and to wash hands frequently to help contain the spread of the virus.  If anyone in the family is symptomatic please stay home and quarantine yourself on a precautionary basis.”

“While schools are closed for instruction, administrators and teachers will still have access to school buildings for local district planning, distance-based education purposes, temporary grab-and-go meal programs and childcare issues,” he added.

Update March 14, 8:30 a.m.

East Hampton Town declared a state of emergency late Friday afternoon, closing all town facilities except the town’s recycling centers and police department as of Monday, March 16, after the town reported its first case of the new coronavirus late Thursday.

According to East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, the resident, who is a woman in her late 70s, is under mandatory home quarantine and ” has not had contact with town senior center, programs, or transportation services, [and ] lives in [a] private residence.”

The Suffolk County Health Department is investigating the patients movements and contacts.

The State of Emergency authorizes the town “to take whatever actions are deemed necessary to protect public health and safety,” said Mr. Van Scoyoc.

Town staff will report to work for essential business and can process permit applications, but those submissions must be made electronically. All town meetings committee are cancelled until further notice. Town board, and town appointed board meetings including the planning board and zoning board, will proceed but “members of the public are asked not to attend in person. Most planning board and ZBA public hearings are cancelled. More details are online here.

The March 22 Montauk Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day parade is cancelled, along with the Ama-O’Gansett parade scheduled for March 14.

The Peconic Landing retirement community, where three of the earliest coronavirus cases were employees, updated the public on Friday that “at this time, we have not received any notification of additional confirmed cases of coronavirus. We continue to have constant contact with the Suffolk County Department of Health and are following all recommendations set forth.”

As part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of Emergency declaration Thursday, senior living facilities were enabled to bar visitation, a measure Peconic Landing had already been beginning to implement.

According to Peconic Landing’s Friday statement, “visitation to the campus remains suspended until further notice. All non-medical visitation continues to be suspended for the health center. All team members in the health center are wearing surgical masks at all times. All employees are undergoing screening protocols prior to reporting for their shift. These protocols were put into place prior to Governor Cuomo’s order.”

Peconic Landing is setting up Skype calls between residents and their families and friends. To get in touch with an Independent Living Member, call 631.593.8210. To get in touch with a Health Center member, call 631.593.8288.

Update: March 13, 4:30 p.m.

Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski, who represents the North Fork, gave residents an update on availability of testing, the County Health Department’s procedures for tracing contacts, and on business concerns about whether the coronavirus is food-borne in a message to residents Friday afternoon.

Mr. Krupski said the county Office of Emergency Management and Health Department “have been coordinating with and disseminating information to hospitals, nursing homes, school districts as well as local first responders.  It is imperative that our first responders remain healthy, and the appropriate protective equipment is available for them, as well as training for its appropriate use.” 

“According to the Dr. Gregson Pigott, Commissioner of SCDHS, when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, the county has the authority, and will initiate an investigation to identify the people the person was in close contact with, starting with family/household members, close friends and co-workers.  Depending on a number of factors, including the time frame of the exposure, people may be required to be quarantined,” Mr. Krupski added. “We have been advised by SCDHS that if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, which includes a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, a cough, or shortness of breath, you should contact your doctor before going to their office, walk-in clinic or emergency room.  Due to the availability of diagnostic testing kits, currently tests will only be performed on those individuals who are displaying symptoms. The availability of testing kits is out of the hands of Suffolk County, but I am in contact with State and Federal officials encouraging them to dedicate whatever resources are needed to get an adequate number of testing kits to Suffolk County as soon as possible. I’ve had conversations with, and listened to the concerns of local businesses and confirmed with Dr. Pigott, that COVID-19 is not a food-borne virus.”

Update: March 13, 1 p.m.

“As of today, March 13, 2020, The Suffolk County Department of Health has confirmed 11 cases in Southold Town,” according to an announcement from Southold Town at 11:30 a.m. March 13. “That number is expected to grow as testing becomes more readily available.”

Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport is no longer allowing visitors as of March 13, “for the health and safety of our community, patients and families,” according to a statement on the hospital’s website. “We are no longer allowing visitation until further notice. We understand this is a challenging situation and appreciate your understanding.”

Pediatric patients and patients requiring assistance may be accompanied by one visitor in the emergency department, but a pediatric patient’s visitor must be their parent or caregiver.

Southampton Hospital began setting up a forward triage area in anticipation of receiving more coronavirus patients at its Parrish Memorial Hall on Friday.

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital has also released guidelines for patients attempting to access care.

Greenport Village announced Friday afternoon that its office will be closed on Monday.

According to the village, “at some point prior, the Office will be deep-cleaned as a proactive measure. Similarly, the Carousel will also be deep-cleaned, and there are on-going additional cleanings being performed at the Recreation Center. It is expected that the Village Office will re-open on Tuesday, but will not be accessible to the public, to help protect the safety of our staff and residents. Business may be transacted over the phone or by fax or e-mail.”

From Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20, Southampton Town’s Senior Centers at Hampton Bays, Flanders, and Bridgehampton will temporarily suspend their Congregant Dining and Recreation activities for the week.

“While these services are interrupted, the Town will assess how to proceed regarding provision of services, or determine if a longer-term shut-down is necessary,” according to the town. “Prior to the end of the week, a follow-up announcement will be made updating the situation and announcing any changes.”

Riverhead Town also declared a State of Emergency as of midnight on March 13. All town buildings and facilities will be closed except for the police department and court complex, and town hall will remain open on a limited basis. The March 17 town board meeting has been cancelled, along with all town committee meetings. Recreation programs and in-house senior citizen programs are cancelled through March 31.

Update: March 13, 6:30 a.m.

An East Hampton woman in her late 70s is confirmed to have the new coronavirus and is under mandatory quarantine and being monitored by the Suffolk County Health Department, according to a late Thursday evening press release from East Hampton Town.

According to the town, “the Suffolk County Health Department confirmed late Thursday afternoon that an East Hampton resident is one of 21 Suffolk County residents who have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. All cases to date in the county appear to have been community spread and not linked to travel.

“On Thursday afternoon, officials from East Hampton Town and its villages, along with emergency responders and school officials, urged East Hampton residents to limit their person-to-person contact in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“Residents have been urged to immediately practice “social distancing,” by doing business remotely, by phone or email rather than in person; undertaking only necessary errands or other tasks, and canceling group meetings or gatherings.”

More cases of the coronavirus are expected, according to East Hampton Town.

The Riverhead Central School District has also cancelled classes today “for additional cleaning of all buildings.” According to the school, “we will make a decision over the weekend about how to proceed for next week. There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus within our schools.”

Original Story Follows:

Southold Town declared a State of Emergency Thursday afternoon, after Suffolk County’s coronavirus caseload doubled overnight, with half of all the county’s confirmed cases now in Southold Town, including three employees of the Peconic Landing senior community in Greenport, one employee of the Southold Fish Market, one employee of the Times/Review News Group and one employee of the Greenport Harbor Brewery.

The Peconic Landing Lifecare retirement community in Greenport announced Thursday afternoon that the Suffolk County Health Department has confirmed that a second and third employee have tested positive for the new coronavirus, after one per diem employee who works there was confirmed yesterday to have the new virus, which is particularly deadly for older adults.

“We are in constant contact with the Suffolk County Department of Health and following their direction. The Suffolk County Department of Health is currently undergoing an investigation to identify individuals who may have had direct contact with these employees,” according to a statement from Peconic Landing Thursday. “The Suffolk County Department of Health will contact these individuals directly. Due to HIPAA regulations we are unable to provide specific information about the employees.”

“As a cautionary measure, we are suspending outside visitation until further notice. We are not under quarantine,” the statement added. “We are, however, identifying additional opportunities to protect our members’ and employees’ safety and well-being. Recommendations from the Governor’s Office, the Suffolk County Health Commissioner, the NY State Department of Health and the CDC support this approach. At this time, our focus is on ensuring the safety and well-being of our members and our employees. We are communicating all updates to our members and employees via a multitude of internal communication channels. We will be providing on-going updates via our webpage and social media channels for families, media and the greater community. We continue to offer every assurance to our members, members’ families and employees that Peconic Landing will be following all recommendations and will act in the best interests of our entire community.”

“I hosted a meeting with Southold Town’s expanded Emergency Management Team consisting of over 35 government officials including representatives from Suffolk County, local school officials, fire department chiefs, Town Senior Services and health care administrators,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell in a 4 p.m. announcement of the State of Emergency. “Presentations were made to the group by Suffolk County Officials currently managing the COVID-19 crisis as well as ELIH at Stony Brook University Hospital. All participants engaged in open discussions and provided the current status of their facility/organization, precautions they have initiated in the workplace, their plans for community spread of COVID-19 and their future needs that Southold Town can assist with. Southold Town’s Emergency Management Team will continue to keep our local partners informed and involved in response to this serious crisis.”

Mr. Russell urged Southolders who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus to contact the Suffolk County Department of Health at 631.854.0333.

A growing number East End events have be cancelled due to concerns about the possible spread of the new coronavirus at large gatherings. We’re updating our list regularly.

There are now eight confirmed cases of coronavirus in Southold Town, said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in a Thursday afternoon press conference, along with four in Brookhaven Town, two in Smithtown, one in Islip and one in Huntington.

Mr. Bellone also declared a State of Emergency for Suffolk County Thursday afternoon “to allow the county government to more quickly respond to the emergency,” to help the county purchase supplies and “move employees to where they need to be to address the crisis.”

“The number of positive cases is continuing to rise,” said Mr. Bellone. “As of this afternoon, 16 residents [in Suffolk County] have tested positive, double the number we had at the end of the day yesterday.”

Mr. Bellone said 10 of the patients are in the hospital and six are in mandatory home isolation, and that all of them appear to have contracted the disease in the local community.

He added that 49 people who may have been exposed to the patients are under mandatory quarantine. Seventy-six people are still under precautionary quarantine due to their travel history, all of whom are asymptomatic.

All Southold Town office buildings were closed to the public effective at 4 p.m. March 12. All public meetings, hearings and town-sponsored programs are also cancelled until further notice, but members of the public may still access the various departments by phone or email.

If you have any questions, you can call the Supervisor’s office at 631.765.1889.

Greenport Village is urging members of the public to do business with the village over the phone, and has urged its employees to engage in social distancing.

“Staff members may be wearing gloves when dealing with the public, and may also maintain the recommended 6-foot distance,” said the village in a press release Thursday. “We strongly suggest that any business that can be transacted over the phone be done so – i.e. – bill payments, questions, the voicing of comments or concerns, etc.” The village’s webpage is filled with details.

The Congregate Lunch program at the Southold Town Human Resource Center has been suspended through Friday, March 20.  

According to the town, “although meals will not be served in our dining room, frozen meals are available for pick up for seniors over the age of 60 (or participants who regularly drive to the Center for lunch). Currently the Home Delivered Meals Program remains fully operational. The Senior Adult Day Care program has also suspended services temporarily. Seniors with any questions can call the Senior Center at 631.298.4460 for information or for further assistance.”

The Southold, Oysterponds and Mattituck-Cutchogue School Districts have announced the school will be closed Friday, March 13 and Monday, March 16.

“Although the district has not received a positive result of COVID 19 for a student or staff member, we have made the decision to close tomorrow, Friday, March 13 and Monday, March 16,” said the Southold School District in a message to parents. “This is out of an abundance of caution and will allow the District to complete a deep, thorough cleaning of the buildings. We will remain in constant contact with the Suffolk County Department of Health.”

Mattituck-Cutchogue will be using two out of their four allotted snow days for the closure, and all of the district’s after-school extra-curricular activities will be cancelled through Monday, March 23. 

The Greenport School District was also closed Thursday and Friday “out of an abundance of caution…[to] allow the District to complete a deep, thorough cleaning of the building. We will remain in constant contact with the Suffolk County Department of Health.”

Community Action Southold Town is providing emergency bags of food to families in need at schools that are closed due to the crisis. Call 631.477.1717 to sign up.

In Town Supervisor Scott Russell’s announcement of the state of emergency, he urged the public to visit a CDC link on Southold’s website, which is a comprehensive FAQ and answers many of the questions we all have.

People are also welcome to call Suffolk County 311, which is a hotline dedicated to answering any questions someone may have. That number can be reached at 631.853.6311 from outside the 631 area code.

Southold Town highlighted some important information in the CDC guide:

• If you are developing symptoms that are associated with COVID-19 such as fever, cough or shortness of breath and or have been in close contact with someone known to have been infected you should contact your primary care physician or, if you don’t have one, you should contact an urgent care facility and follow the specific directions.

• Symptoms usually appear between 2 and 14 days of exposure.

• If you show no symptoms, please be vigilant and follow well-shared protocol of washing your hands thoroughly, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and maintain a safe distance between yourself and other people which is no less than 6 feet.

• Stay home if you are sick, for your own safety and the safety of others.

Read our prior coverage of the coronavirus crisis.

A growing number East End events have be cancelled due to concerns about the possible spread of the new coronavirus at large gatherings. We’re updating our list regularly.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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