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Secluded Chesapeake Bay island keeps eye on virus from afar


Secluded Chesapeake Bay island keeps eye on virus from afar

Accessible only by plane or boat, Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay has reported zero cases of the coronavirusBy BEN FINLEY Associated PressMay 4, 2020, 4:37 PM5 min readNORFOLK, Va. — Inez Pruitt has watched the coronavirus spread throughout the world from the relative safety of Tangier Island, a small fishing community in the middle…

Secluded Chesapeake Bay island keeps eye on virus from afar

Accessible only by aircraft or boat, Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay has actually reported no cases of the coronavirus


BEN FINLEY Associated Press

May 4, 2020, 4: 37 PM

5 min read

Inez Pruitt has actually seen the coronavirus spread throughout the world from the relative safety of Tangier Island, a little fishing community in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.

However the infection is now as close it can get without crossing the water, infecting individuals on the Eastern Coast of Virginia and Maryland.

” I seem like if we got COVID, it would be ravaging,” stated Pruitt, a doctor assistant who runs the island’s health clinic. “In my head it has a very high capacity of happening. I simply intend to God it does not.”

Reachable just by plane or boat, the dwindling neighborhood of less than 500 people has reported absolutely no cases of the coronavirus. And though its one school and 2 churches have shuttered, life has actually continued at a level of normalcy that much of the country lost weeks ago.

Far fewer people on Tangier are using masks than in much of the U.S. Its watermen, who anchor the economy and comprise much of the labor force, still bring up crab pots and sell their bushels to buyers on the mainland.

Only one dining establishment is open this time of year, so only one had to close its dining-room.

The island still commemorated Palm Sunday and Easter, albeit in a long procession of golf carts and other automobiles that circled the island.

” It’s sort of like we have actually remained in a safe haven,” Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge said. “We feel more secured.”

Tangier has actually happened viewed by some in America’s stifled East Coast cities as the best escape.

” I’ve had folks call me up from all over and say, ‘Would it be OKAY if I flew in simply to walk on the beach?'” the mayor said.

The mayor said he has actually discouraged such visits, however small airplanes have actually landed in current weeks. The island likewise told a New York-based production business that was filming a possible tv show about Tangier to remain away until the pandemic diminished.

However the community’s protective isolation might also be its undoing if the coronavirus comes ashore. Illness can spread out fast in the close-knit community, which hasn’t had a full-time medical professional in half a century.

Nowadays, a doctor normally flies to the island every other week. Individuals who get actually sick should be required to a hospital on the mainland. About 40%of Tangier’s occupants are more than 60 years of ages and for that reason more susceptible to the virus.

Over the winter, a flu spread rapidly and infected more than 50 people, Pruitt stated. Someone practically died. Another had a cardiac arrest.

” We’re incubated and isolated enough to spread much like we did the influenza,” she stated.

Pruitt said many people on the island have practiced social distancing and stopped going to friends. However Tangier is still really much linked to the remainder of the world.

A mail boat comes 6 days a week. Another boat typically takes individuals each afternoon to the mainland. A 3rd boat selects up crabs. And after that there are the island homeowners who take their own boats to offer crabs or who need to buy groceries, medication or other supplies on the mainland.

Plus, lots of the island’s residents leave for weeks at a time to deal with tugboats along the East Coast.

Among them is James Parks, 53, who deals with a tugboat that fuels ships passing through New York City. He stated those ships have actually consisted of the USNS Comfort, the U.S. Navy hospital ship that President Donald Trump sent to New York.

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Speaking from his mobile phone on the tug, Parks said the crew of five wore gloves and masks prior to buying food in Virginia and Maryland to take on the boat. Each had his temperature level taken prior to getting onboard for a three-week journey.

The team will never set foot in New york city. However Parks’ issue about bringing the infection back has him preventing Tangier’s one supermarket and other public places whenever he returns.

” However there are many methods it can be brought there,” he said.

For now, however, Parks is eagerly anticipating making it house.

The relative sensation of safety on Tangier is an unusual role reversal for a neighborhood that frequently draws apocalyptic descriptions.

The island is quickly vanishing into the nation’s largest estuary. Researchers predict that homeowners might need to abandon Tangier in 25 to 50 years.

More youths are leaving for college, the military and better-paying tasks. The island has half the locals it did 40 years ago.

” People say we’re going to get washed into the bay and we’re going to drown,” said Tommy Eskridge, a 53- year-old waterman and the mayor’s nephew. “However here we are. It appears like we got a leg up on this one.”


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