A special message on COVID-19 to the Fishers Island Community from the Island Health Project, #5
April 24, 2020
We are happy to report that for the third week in a row, we have no new cases of COVID-19 on Fishers Island. Meanwhile, the pandemic has been devastating in the state of New York (260,000+ cases) and especially in New York City, where about 11,000 have died from the disease, and counting. Our current stable situation is probably a combination of luck and good management – but we do need to brace for inevitable challenges to come.
Our only defense at this time is continued adherence to quarantine and social distancing protocols (see the Advice and FAQs below). I ask you all to actively enforce these protocols with each other. We are also aggressively evaluating testing options and will report back to you when we have a plan. Another very high priority at this point is for everyone – year-rounders, seasonal residents, and guests – to fill out the COVID-19 Census either online or in paper form. If you know anyone who has not done so, please implore them to complete it upon every arrival, and reinforce that the data will be kept confidential by IHP.
This community has been coming together in a way never seen before. 146 households dialed into the Island Community Board (ICB) meeting on Tuesday where we answered your questions live. Thanks to the leadership of Willard Soper, the ICB and IHP’s COVID-19 committee has been able to hold a series of small meetings with a great number of Island organizations to tackle their public health issues and decisions to help keep us all safe. So far, these have included the FI Club, Hay Harbor Club, FI Yacht Club, The Pequot, FI Community Center, Island People’s Project, FI Museum, FI Library, Lighthouse Works, and of course FIDCO, FI Ferry, FI Fire Department, and the Village Market, with whom we’ve been in near constant contact. Next week we will be discussing the situation with all the churches, the FI Conservancy and Island realtors. All these groups will be encouraged to post their updates on www.fishersisland.net.
This week we want to begin looking forward, to help you manage expectations. Key messages this week are:
- What it means to come out of 14-day self-quarantine: After you have self-quarantined for fourteen days, we are still strongly recommending social distancing at a distance of at least 6’, outdoors. We are in the early planning stages to test for COVID-19 so that you can carefully expand your cohort in future. Please note that we have further clarified definitions of self-quarantine and isolation in our Advice document this week. Also if you do need to go off Island, please limit it to essential services, and please act responsibly upon return. Do remember that it is mandatory to wear a mask on the FI Ferry, on public or hired transportation, and in public within 6’ of others throughout the States of CT and NY.
- How this summer will be different: We need to expect that the situation this summer will be very different from normal. Children’s programs may look vastly different or not exist at all. Restaurants may or may not be open at the clubs, Pequot, or Community Center. Institutions like the Museum will be closed except for online and outdoor activities. Big parties are definitely discouraged. Two-week summer visitors might need to self-quarantine for their entire visit. Ordinary medical needs are better fulfilled by hometown doctors and through telemedicine where possible. Please begin envisioning your summer to be simpler and more family oriented, less social, more self-sufficient and less reliant on services of various kinds.
- Supplementing our infrastructure: Because we foresee that even a modest increase in population will increase the risk of outbreaks on the island, we are trying to supplement our medical staff on Island in July and August, and we are also trying to acquire testing capabilities. But this should give no one any false hope that we are protected from crisis. Until there is a vaccine and treatment, we will all have to remain in social distancing mode, as inconvenient as that may be. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
This week’s updated Advice and FAQ for this week (with latest changes in red) can be found here:
Again, please do not hesitate to call or text me at 917-903-3516 if you are experiencing symptoms and need medical advice.
Dr. Christopher Ingram
Physician in Residence, Fishers Island