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‘It was only a matter of time’

Lyn Marcello, a schoolteacher on Long Island, knew it would only be a matter of time before the island had its first case of COVID-19. 

The island recorded its first three cases this week. Since March, the island remained COVID-19-free.

“I think what happened was because we were freed before many of the other islands, people took it for granted that it would remain that way,” she told The Nassau Guardian when called for comment yesterday. 

“And also, I feel they relaxed to the extent that they were not fully aware of how dangerous this virus could actually be.

“And I had heard of a function or two, and what happened was there were more than the allotted numbers and as a result, these cases have come up. So, the persons who went to the function intermingled with others, and there we have it – community spread. [It’s] sad but true.”

Marcello said she knew there would eventually be cases on Long Island, but the confirmation on Sunday was a disappointment for her.

“I am a bit disappointed, but I feel that this was inevitable because there is no way our country can be manned sufficiently because we are an archipelagic nation,” she said.

“So, it was bound to happen. And I feel each and every island will eventually have some cases.”

Long Island MP Adrian Gibson said the first confirmed case was a relative of his. 

He also noted yesterday that a person displaying COVID symptoms had to be airlifted on Monday night

Gibson said recent deaths on the island are also under investigation.

Cindy Petsch, another Long Island native, said the cases raise a number of questions, especially given the limited health care on the island. 

“People are definitely nervous about the situation, some are concerned about the quality of medical care that is available on the island,” she said.

“However, the medical team on the island are doing a great job with the limited resources they have.

“What is the course of treatment available in The Bahamas for COVID-related cases? Should more testing be done on the island to see exactly how many persons are truly infected? What persons should take to boost one’s immune system? There are a lot of concerns.”

Petsch said some residents are asking for a lockdown of the island to isolate cases and stop potential community spread.

“Some persons even feel that the island should be put on a mandatory lockdown for two weeks so that whoever has it will be treated and there will not be any more spread,” she said.

“Also they are requesting this lockdown because it appears that some persons will never adhere to the rules.”

She added, “So, are we nervous? Yes, but we are definitely hopeful that we as Long Islanders will overcome this too. We are a resilient people and we have faced many obstacles before and with the help of God almighty, we will prevail.”

However, Marcello, said she is doubtful that a lockdown will be implemented.

“It appears as though the general Bahamian populous, they dislike the lockdowns,” she said.

“So they have to be responsible. If you don’t like lockdowns, be responsible.”

Marcello added, “I think the prime minister, his goal was to flatten the curve by having lockdowns, but each time there was one, there was a section of the populous that always was not for it. They wanted to be let out. So, I guess he left the ultimate responsibility up to us to do what we have to do.

“I don’t think we need another lockdown because our economy would fall into shambles. And we cannot have that.”

Marcello said she believes the virus may have been spread through some social events that should not have happened.

Betty Miller, owner of Hillside Food Supply, one of the largest grocery stores on the island, said she is concerned about the ability of officials to enforce a quarantine on Long Island.

“There are a lot of rumors that many people are in quarantine,” she said.

Miller added, “I hope that people who are in quarantine are being monitored.

“I know someone was supposed to be in quarantine yesterday, and I saw them out and about. So, I hope the police are really watching people who are supposed to be in quarantine. So, that’s my fear.”

Miller said the island’s first case, which was confirmed on Sunday, was a person who had been careful and tried not to expose himself.

“What’s scary is he was careful and he was not out and about, and he still got it,” she said.

“So, when you’re trying to do your best, it’s just still so risky.”

She said that even though Long Island remains open for normal business, more restrictive measures have already been implemented at the food store.

“When everything first started, we limited it to five customers in the building at a time,” she said.

 “As of yesterday, we started it again, only allowing five in at a time.”

 There are over 2,200 cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas, with cases now on every major island. 

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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