To the editor:
The East End has seen a substantial increase in its population as people leave New York City during the spread of the COVID-19 Virus. As a result, three town supervisors, several mayors and the Shinnecock Nation called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to institute a temporary travel ban, for one reason: Our communities are small, our resources are limited and this influx makes it difficult to contain the rapid spread of the virus here.
Southold has been hit particularly hard by the virus, with a rate of infection that exceeds all of the towns in Suffolk County and nearly twice the rate of New York City. We must do what we can to protect our residents, both part-time and full-time.
Southold’s overwhelming growth is from people renting for extended stays who do not own homes in Southold and have no other ties to the community. A stay-in-place order means just that. It’s not an invitation to rent a house for a month and retreat to the country.
While I do not think it’s inappropriate to ask full- and part-time residents who have not returned to Southold for the season to delay returning until the virus is brought to a manageable level, neither group was referenced in my press release or the joint release calling for a ban.
The concept is simple: More people equals more positive cases, which puts a tremendous strain on our limited health care resources and exposes our first responders to greater risks. That is a statistical certainty. Travel between two hot spots raises serious public health concerns regardless of someone’s residential status.
See more: Readers react to ban
Businesses are closed or limited, contractors are turning away work and many people are unemployed. Everyone is making sacrifices. Prohibiting owners from renting to people who see Southold as nothing more than a safe haven, asking others to defer returning to Southold if possible and eliminating unnecessary travel with reasonable restrictions may be an inconvenience and require making sacrifices, but for the time being, sacrifice is the new normal.
Mr. Russell is Southold Town supervisor.