Hempstead Town Supervisor Donald Clavin declared a state of emergency on Monday after the leader of the town’s thousands of unionized workers called for Hempstead to halt inessential operations for two weeks following the news that a town employee tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Along with New York State and Nassau County, the Town of Hempstead is declaring a State of Emergency to protect town employees, members of the public and our entire community against the spread of the Coronavirus,” Clavin said in a statement.
Hempstead’s Town Hall will remain open with reduced staff and adjusted hours. It will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Clavin urged residents to call Town Hall or use online services when possible in order to avoid unnecessary contact.
On Monday, Clavin said in an interview with Newsday that Hempstead is exploring staggering town employees’ shifts as an added precaution.
There were 101 confirmed cases in Nassau County as of Monday, according to County Executive Laura Curran. As of Friday, 34 cases involved Town of Hempstead residents.
Clavin announced the establishment of a coronavirus task force in a press conference last Wednesday following the confirmation of 31 COVID-19 cases in the town.
“I want to assure our residents that we are taking simple and effective measures to prevent the spreading of this disease,” Clavin said. “We’ve had regularly scheduled meetings to discuss the coronavirus and want residents to be reassured that necessary precautions are in place.”
The task force will be “dedicated to crafting strategies and precautionary measures in response to concerns related to novel Coronavirus on Long Island,” according to a statement Clavin released last Wednesday. These measures include expanding communication and education initiatives, as well as disinfectant and cleaning efforts.
“The health and safety of residents is our priority and we take this matter very seriously,” he said.
Clavin had previously remained quiet since the first case was announced on Thursday, March 5.
On Friday, March 6, Curran said that all four confirmed coronavirus cases that had been confirmed in the county at that time were confined to the Town of Hempstead.
The first case was a 42-year-old man who works part-time at Mercy Medical Center. Medical experts said that he had not been to work in a week, and that they were unsure how he had contracted the virus.
The next three cases were women ages 36, 41 and 63. One patient is hospitalized and the other two are quarantined in their homes. The three cases are “close contacts” of the first patient, according to Curran.
Medical Director Dr. David Neubert and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito will lead the coronavirus task force. Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Councilman Bruce Blakeman, Councilman Dennis Dunne Sr., Councilman Tom Muscarella, Councilman Chris Carini, Town Clerk Kate Murray and Receiver Jeanine Driscoll will also serve on the committee.
Clavin said that health experts and officials have found that senior citizens are among the most vulnerable. He announced that the town has implemented measures to protect the senior population, including disinfecting senior centers daily, installing hand sanitizing equipment, sending EMTs to educate seniors about the virus and sanitizing the senior transportation fleet.
The task force will hold a Facebook live question-and-answer session on Friday at 2 p.m. after holding one on Sunday. Community members can access the event at facebook.com/hempsteadtown.