Fire Island & Coronavirus: COVID-19 implications for Fire Island Pines, Cherry Grove for Summer '20 | Covering the Intersections of Race, Culture, Sexuality, and Fashion | 48min Fire Island & Coronavirus: COVID-19 implications for Fire Island Pines, Cherry Grove for Summer '20 | Covering the Intersections of Race, Culture, Sexuality, and Fashion | 48min

Fire Island & Coronavirus: COVID-19 implications for Fire Island Pines, Cherry Grove for Summer ’20

A lot has changed in New York City the last week and everyday life seems to be changing by the hour New Yorkers isolate and socially distant themselves during the current Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic.

The reality of the situation has forced any sporting event, leagues and business conferences to be cancelled in the next two months with the most optimistic of outlooks being June. Even that seems to be overly-optimistic in these seemingly scary times.

How Will Coronavirus Impact Fire Island 2020?

As we shelter in place, we have to hold out hope otherwise the time spent inside is going to be miserable.

With June and July being the high season months when droves of LGBTQ+ city dwellers escape the steel and concrete to Fire Island, Provincetown, Montauk, Rehoboth and Cherry Grove, we all have a lot of time to ponder whether we’ll have a summer.

For those that have purchased shares in houses in the Pines are especially invested in Fire Island, so what’s the latest on Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove for Summer 2020? We received an email from Fire Island Properties regarding where the island is in dealing with COVID-19. The majority of that communication is below:

The Fire Island Association held a conference call asking to inform our residents that the police, fire and medical responders on Fire Island are not yet prepared at this time to handle large numbers of returning residents. Just a few infections on Fire Island could overwhelm their current resources.

Regulations require that an infected person must call the emergency services for evacuation. He/she must NOT use the ferry service.

Please note that: There is only one police vehicle and a limited number of SCMP boats operating in the Pines. No helicopters are operating. If a vehicle or a boat is needed to transport an infected (or presumed-to-be-infected) person, the vehicle/boat will be out of service during the time of that transport. Decontamination takes from 4-8 hours, extending the out-of-service period.

If a person is infected, current regulations also require he or she to remain in place, and the entire house will be under quarantine. With few commercial services available, this could quickly create an extremely difficult situation with regard to food and other supplies.

Further, the ferries can be crowded, making it difficult to observe “social distance.” While people are encouraged to ride on the upper decks, inclement weather can make that difficult. Sayville Ferry pointed out that if a single crew member is infected, or is reported to have had contact with an infected person, the entire crew and captain may have to go into quarantine. This chain of events, if repeated, could force the ferry service to shut down entirely.

Sounds like they’ve discussed all the potential exposure points including travelling to Fire Island from using LIRR to the ferries and the general closeness that is the usual experience in The Pines. It’s certainly not a weekend of social distancing.

Not just that, the island’s limits of first responders is a consideration. So are their decontamination procedures, potential quarantining of those that have been in-contact and perhaps a Shelter in Place order:

Conversations have also occurred with the County Executive this week regarding the possibility of an order to “shelter in place”. We were told that it is not clear whether such an order will be issued, (and, in any event, its definitions are not entirely clear). In the worst case, it would require that everyone on Fire Island would have to remain there, when announced. This could turn into an extremely difficult situation, diverting aid to the healthy rather than to the sick. We are seeking immediate clarity on this point, but the situation is complex regarding State versus local government jurisdiction.

All that is to say, nothing has been determined as of yet. The powers that be in FIP are still figuring out the next steps and likely waiting to see whether the rate of coronavirus cases increases or decreases as New York City is the epicenter of the virus in the United States.

To all Pines residents: we urge those already in the Pines, as well as those considering a return to the Pines, to carefully review these points. We are in an unprecedented situation. With another week or two of preparation, as well as the time to better understand what is happening with the rate of infections, we hope to bring you better news.

We can’t blame them as it is only March. It would certainly be too early to cancel the entirety of a Fire Island summer for 2020 as it lasts into deep August. We’ll update this post when/if we hear more about how Fire Island and Cherry Grove seasons are affected by COVID-19

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