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Biminites brace for lockdown, but not all welcome it

Lloyd “Duda” Edgecombe, 66, a prominent member of Bimini’s local government council, has been quarantined at home since last month.

“I’ve been on lockdown for a month because my sister-in-law was the first to die [from COVID-19],” Edgecombe told The Nassau Guardian.

“I was locked down two weeks for her. And then, after that, I found that my wife had it and I’m still in lockdown now to be honest.

“I’ve been locked down for a month. Mind you, it’s not easy.”

On April 1, Kim Johnson-Rolle, Edgecombe’s sister-in-law, became the first person to die in The Bahamas as a result of the virus. She was also the first recorded case on Bimini.

On April 12, officials said a woman on Cat Cay, a small island near Bimini, had the virus. Ten days later, officials said a man and woman on Bimini contracted the virus. Three days later, five people tested positive for COVID-19 on Bimini.

On May 5, officials said three more people on Bimini contracted the virus. Finally, the two latest cases were confirmed on Bimini yesterday, bringing the total number of cases on the island to 13.

Health officials have declared Bimini a COVID-19 hotspot.

As a result, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday imposed a two-week lockdown, which will start at 9 a.m. on Monday and end at midnight on May 30.

Minnis said the date will be extended to a total of 14 days when Parliament reconvenes on May 27.

Bimini will not be locked down this weekend, according to Attorney General Carl Bethel.

Edgecombe said, “I’m one of those folks who didn’t support it (a total lockdown) in the beginning. Mind you, I’m also affected by the virus personally… I’m taking care of my wife now who has the virus. So, that touched me personally.

“But, I think we’ll get over. I don’t think it’s something we can’t get over.”

Edgecombe said he believes Bimini residents will adhere to the lockdown.

However, he noted that it is “going to be tough on some people”.

“Mentally, it’s not a good thing, especially for people who live in smaller houses with more people,” he said.

“So, that is going to be a trying time for some people.”

‘How we gonna survive’

Bendra Rolle, 36, a resident of Bailey Town, Bimini, is among those having a tough time stomaching the idea of a full lockdown.

She said she has been having a difficult time since The Bahamas began feeling the economic impact of the pandemic in March.

“I can’t feed my children,” Rolle told The Guardian.

As her voice cracked, she continued, “I could [normally] go to my friend or go to somebody’s house and say, ‘Well, okay, I need a can of spaghetti or noodles or something for my child.’

“If you lock us down, how are we supposed to do that? Where [are we going to] find sufficient food?

“Oh, the government said they [will] provide the food? You gonna provide the food but I know it’s only a limited [amount] or whatever.”

Rolle said she was laid off from work in March.

As a result of her difficult financial situation, she said she does not support the government’s decision to implement a lockdown of Bimini.

“Either we got to get together and protest this or they got to do something quick, fast and hurry because this is ridiculous,” Rolle said.

Pherina Newry, 34, another resident of Bailey Town, is also worried about how she will make it during the lockdown.

“How we gonna survive?” she asked.

“If I don’t have no money, how am I going to the food store? I have four adults in my house. You can’t say you bringing me two [cans of] tuna and one pound of rice and that’s supposed to cover me for two weeks. That’s not going to happen. You’re going to have to bring me some meat or something.”

Newry and her husband are both unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I went to social services here in Bimini where they were saying unemployed and single mothers could come and sign up,” she said.

“They told me I was not eligible because I was married. I said, ‘I fall under the unemployed.’

“They told me, ‘No, ma’am, you are married.’”

She said she was supposed to collect her unemployment benefits from the National Insurance Board (NIB) next week.

“How could we check NIB next week if we on lockdown for two weeks?” Newry asked.

“I don’t know what’s next. I have rent to pay. I have light bill to pay. Thank God my landlord is a little lenient with me. I’m very worried.”

During his address, the prime minister said the lockdown is “not something that would have been preferred”.

“But it is absolutely necessary because things will get much worse on Bimini if we don’t take this strong measure immediately,” Minnis said.

Gilbert Rolle Jr., 35, a resident of Bailey Town, agrees with the prime minister.

“My take is we should just do whatever is necessary to try to prevent the spread,” Rolle told The Guardian.

He said Bimini will be “fine” once people are given enough time to buy groceries.

“If the healthcare professionals feel as though this is the best thing, we should trust them and just comply with whatever the government says,” Rolle said.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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