Dr. Clark: This is the time to stay vigilant

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 4:45pm

During an emergency meeting of the Town Council held today, Wednesday, April 1, Dr. Mark Clark recognized that there had been rumors about the presence of the COVID-19 on the island, but stated again that there had been no confirmed cases on Block Island and that “if and when” there is a case, the Medical Center would immediately let people know. “That is not something we would keep a secret,” Clark said.

Clark said the Medical Center had conducted several tests that had negative results. He did say the results of several COVID-19 tests were still pending.

Clark said the fight to keep the virus off the island was at a critical stage. “We are entering the steep part of the curve,” said Clark. “It is increasing exponentially. This should not be alarming. This is what we expected.” There are 488 confirmed cases in the state.

Clark also said that it may be a good idea for people to start wearing surgical masks to prevent the spread of the disease. He said the Centers for Disease Control was set to announce that wearing surgical masks may help prevent the spread of the virus. Clark said the data shows that people can be infected for up to two days without showing any symptoms.

“We may want to keep that in mind for out here,” Clark said about wearing masks. “I think the message is for the most part is to keep our vigilance up and not let our guard down. It would be a mistake if we let our guard down.”

Clark once again said, “if anyone has a problem with a new infection or is ill please reach out to us so we can keep everyone on the island safe.”

Clark said that any announcement of a confirmed case would immediately be forwarded to the Town Council and posted on the town’s website, the Medical Center website and other forms of social media. The Block Island Times will also post updated information.

First Warden Ken Lacoste announced that the Block Island Grocery had cut back its hours due to ongoing concerns about some customers not adhering to the rules of social distancing.

“Rules at the BIG are being ignored by certain parties and they asked me to tell everyone that is practicing social distancing, ‘Thank you’ and for the other folks that have been ignoring the rules, knock it off, to quote Gina Raimondo,” said Lacoste.

Lacoste said that the “rules are put in place for the safety of you, the public, and for the people working at the grocery store. We’re very fortunate to have these services and if we have a problem with contagion out here we might have a problem and those services might have to be closed.”

“Things are not normal,” said Lacoste. “Things are crazy. This is a place we have not been before. Please cooperate with these folks at these places. Please take that into serious consideration and modify your behavior accordingly.”

The councilors also recognized that there were two areas of concern: how to balance the provisions of the emergency ordinance restricting work while also keeping island residents working in a safe manner, and the imminent return of seasonal workers to the island and how to regulate that flow.

This is a developing story. See this week’s edition for more information.