They do not come from Syria, nor from a people in Honduras. They have not had to cross deserts or put their lives in the hands of the mafias. It’s about New Yorkers. Usually from very wealthy New Yorkers. The type of person who appears on the pages of the ‘New York Times’ and in just a few days, in the coastal towns around the mega-city, has gone from being a wealthy vacationer to a plagued. A bearer of the plague that nobody wants to see outside of his infected city: the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic in the USA.
“There is a new trend that puts our residents at greater risk: people from urban areas seeking refuge,” said Southold Mayor Scott Russell. “It’s a simple calculation: the more people come, the more spread and the more confirmed cases.” Russell and six other mayors from the Hamptons area of Long Island have asked the New York governor by letter to limit travel.
Many residents of the Hamptons, or the Catskills, or Jersey Shore, who typically live off the money that urbanites leave there in the summer, are campaigning for a limit on New Yorkers. “No one is watching anything,” says Catherine Lang, a resident of a town off the Hudson, on the Catskills’ Facebook page. “The people of the city are flooding the area and not only bring their immediate families but also their friendly surroundings, etc. Then we wonder why there are no supplies left in our stores.”
Some hostel and apartment rental owners have blocked bookings. They will lose money but prefer to put their security ahead. “I am very sorry to close my Airbnb, but the area cannot handle a huge influx of people right now,” says Steven DiLorenzo, a part-time Greene County resident and owner of an Airbnb. “Nobody likes to ask people not to come to Greene County. The problem is that the county has very limited resources and does not have a hospital. The closest one is in Hudson and it’s very small. “
Raids on New Yorkers
Concern has risen to the highest level in the states. “I ask those of you who have houses on the Jersey Shore not to come to them right now,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “The local infrastructure, especially the health infrastructure, is not prepared for the influx of part-time residents. Please stay in your first residences.” A town like Long Beach Township has tripled its population in a few days.
Several governorates have put limits on the movement. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, in Massachusetts, have only four confirmed cases of Covid-19, but the influx of people has required the deployment of the police and state troops. The governor has asked that no one else enter the islands.
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has announced that the National Guard will be going door to door looking for New Yorkers. “Right now we have identified a risk that we have to address and we have to take it very seriously,” said Raimondo. “And that risk is called New York City.” Police control accesses to Rhode Island. Agents stop cars with New York license plates and enter the occupants’ personal details. This way they make sure that they respect the mandatory quarantine in the next two weeks.
Waves sweeping stores
Brooklyn or Manhattan stores can handle the daily rush of customers. Not so in a town like Southold, with 22,000 inhabitants, where people start queuing at dawn. “We have a limited number of stores trying to keep their shelves stocked,” said Mayor Scott Russell. “Local residents find it difficult to meet the most basic needs.”
It is not only because of the number of people who come from abroad but also because of their enormous purchasing power. Supermarkets and gourmet food stores have been emptied of salmon, meat, seafood, bottles of wine and all kinds of canned goods. “I had a client who spent $ 8,000,” Joe Gurrera, founder of the Citarella supermarket chain, tells The New York Post. “Do you know when you see someone carry a full car? Well, now they have five ”.
Mistrust towards the urbanite
In Southampton, the PC Richards & Son appliance store sold 700 freezers in one weekend. The millionaires had to put their food somewhere. The same is true for medical resources. Six locations, including Southampton, depend on a hospital with only 125 beds. An insufficient amount for permanent residents; even more so if the population multiplies.
At times, the pandemic has exalted a rejection that already existed: the classic mistrust of small towns towards the inhabitants of the big city, theoretically rude and condescending. Among the requests of the mayors and the complaints of the inhabitants, insults creep in. On Jersey Shore, New Yorkers are called ‘Benny’. No one knows where this nickname comes from: one of the theories is that New Yorkers ostentatiously paid with $ 100 bills, bearing the effigy of Benjamin Franklin. Another, that, since they came to enjoy the climate and the ‘beneficial’ waters for health, they were labelled.
“Right now, there are not many Covid-19 cases in Greene County, but they are expected to rise as more tests are done,” says Steven DiLorenzo, who claims to have had a “huge increase” in rental demand. “At this rate, local health resources are going to overflow, it’s only a matter of time.”