Travelers leaving the New York metro area were advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to self-quarantine for 14 days to ensure they are not spreading COVID-19.
The recommended isolation order applies to all travelers with or without symptoms, but East End town supervisors and many residents are concerned city homeowners who are flocking to the Hamptons are not following these guidelines, and that the increase in cases in their towns is a result of this influx.
“It’s too late,” Mattituck resident Beth Haas Ficner posted on Facebook. “They are here and it has spread! They’re not listening.”
“They’re all hanging out at the beaches as if they’re on holiday,” Cathy Rudder added.
Some are fearful of necessary household products and groceries being wiped from the shelves.
“They are all over the main streets in the Hamptons,” Carolyn Reaver Patterson said. “They are buying out all the grocery stores and being their rude, entitled selves.”
Supervisors from the towns of East Hampton, Southampton, Riverhead, Southold, and Shelter Island sent a letter to send to Governor Andrew Cuomo March 27 asking for a travel ban. The East End Mayors and Supervisors Association agreed a day prior to follow the lead of Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell.
“A new trend is in place that puts our residents at further risk — people seeking refuge from the metropolitan areas,” Russell said via press release. “It is simple math: the more people that come, the greater the spread and the greater the confirmed cases.”
Russell suggested local police work with state counterparts to enforce the ban.
“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.”
He said there have been numerous complaints that anxious shoppers are stockpiling supermarket items and the stores are unable to keep up with the demand.
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he suggested a two-week restriction on unnecessary travel, although unsure how it would be enforced. He added he was also worried about the population increase’s effect on local hospitals.
“The population surge is creating a number of challenges for local government, including summertime levels of park usage and waste management facilities,” Schneiderman said. “But our main concern is the ability of our hospitals and other healthcare providers to meet the needs of those who contract the virus.”
Congressman Lee Zeldin sided with his fellow politicians.
“Dear NYC residents who may have the coronavirus, stop coming out to the East End of Long Island at this time into rentals and congregating at our beaches, overcrowding our grocery stores, and ignoring social distancing. Just stop,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “This is not safe. This is not your vacation. This is a public health emergency. Please show respect for our grocery store workers, our elders, and vulnerable members of our community. Stay in NYC for now while taking the necessary precautions to ensure your safety and the wellbeing of others. Sorry, but we are not your Petri dish playground.”
Some, still, agreed those who live in the Big Apple and own homes in the Hamptons have a right to be there.
“I don’t get the outrage . . . They pay taxes, right?” Lisa Rissanen said. “Don’t your school roads and local governments benefit from that? Don’t they have rights? If you know they are on the beach, then you are too, right?”
“Yes, of course they pay taxes and totally have a right to be here, but many are not abiding by decent, simple rules and etiquette,” Lillian Prosaw Schenkler said in response. “Plus, we are simply not equipped for all people that will be falling ill. Our tiny hospital will not be able to handle the deluge.”
Blogger Adds To Heated Debate
New York City-based social media influencer and fashion blogger Arielle Charnas posted to 1.3 million followers on March 18 that she had tested positive for COVID-19. On Thursday, March 26, she announced that she and her husband Brandon were symptom-free and headed to their home in the Hamptons indefinitely.
“We felt better around the ninth or tenth day,” Charnas said in an Instagram story. “Now at day 14, we feel perfect.”
“We decided to leave our apartment building,” she continued. “We called our doorman before hand and made sure to go to the elevator and lobby when it was completely empty. We are now out at our house in the Hamptons and quarantining out here. We are completely symptom-free.”
Charnas explained her symptoms started with a low-grade fever of 100.8, a sore throat, heaviness in her chest, chills, and a headache. The fever continued along with sinus pressure, headaches, and a dry cough. She later noted despite those symptoms clearing up she had yet to regain her sense of taste and smell.
“I want to reiterate how important it is to follow the CDC and what the government is telling us to do as far as quarantining and social distancing,” Charnas said.
Many saw her move out east in contradiction to that statement.
“Do you have any clue what’s going on in the world?!” one person posted in response. “Why did you come out to Long Island while being sick, or while you or a family member carrying the virus? Couldn’t you just stay in the city quarantined away from us a little longer?”
“Why did you come to the Hamptons?” another person asked. “We have become the next hot spot for [the novel coronavirus] because all of you won’t stop coming out here from the city.”
“Do you realize you have a very contagious, and, for many, deadly disease?” asked another.
Many comments included well wishes for Charnas and her family.
Rick Murphy contributed reporting