Greenport dealing with one of the biggest COVID-19 outbreaks
One of Long Island's tiniest towns has been dealing with one of the biggest COVID-19 outbreaks.
There have been 74 confirmed cases in Greenport, but the entire North Fork has been slammed.
Along with Shelter Island, it's the most rural part of Long Island, but per capita it has one of the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state.
Health officials say they were prepared for the pandemic, but they expected it to make its way east from the city and more heavily populated areas to the west.
Instead, the first hospitalization in Suffolk County happened on the North Fork.
"We learned like everyone else did, on the fly. In the beginning, things were probably not as perfectly smooth as we would have liked them, but they got smoother and smoother as time went by and as staff became used to the rituals that we had to go through," says Dr. Lloyd Simon, of Stony Brook Eastern LI Hospital.
There have been nine deaths related to COVID-19 at Peconic Landing, a retirement community and nursing home in the area.
In the area that relies on tourism, the shutdown of businesses has meant a lot of layoffs and a lot of stress for nonprofit agencies trying to help families in need.
"We were spending about $1,200 a week on food and now we're spending about $6,000," says Cathy Demeroto, of Community Action Southold Town "A lot of our clients are low-wage workers who really support the industries on the North Fork -- the hospitality industry, the agriculture industry and many of them are out of work now."
Area residents have been pitching in to help, with food bins at Jamesport Farm Brewery and nine other businesses. The nonperishable good are distributed to families on weekends and at the Riverhead Baptist Church.
Others have volunteered their time to deliver the food to the homes of people seeking donations. Melissa Caggiano says the idea started with a Facebook post about helping laid-off workers. Two days later, 300 people volunteered to help.
"I think for people, things are so uncertain and so scary that when they can do something like this and help other people, it certainly makes me feel better and I'm sure it makes them feel better too," says Caggiano.
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