By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Long Island’s Chamber of Commerce president has voiced concern that the island lacks sufficient COVID-19 testing kits and other health resources essential to countering the pandemic.
Cheryl de Goicoechea, when asked if visiting boaters were being tested for the virus, replied: “Tested by who? Who is going to test them? We don’t even have any test kits here. We don’t have any way of testing, not as far as I know. I have not been told that they have test kits here on the island.
“I don’t know if anybody reports up to the clinic sick? Maybe they do have test kits. But, as far as I was told, they don’t have any test kits on the island. Who is going to test them? People would have to inform them and how are they being informed? How are they getting news?”
Dr Yvette Carter, head physician at the Deadman’s Cay Community Clinic, did not specifically confirm whether Long Island has COVID-19 testing kits or if they are available in sufficient quantities. “We have what is available right now at this point, and we have a lot of things that are coming in,” she replied, “but for right now we have basically what we need to work with at this point. We can only get more stuff as it comes in.
Tribune Business pressed Dr Carter to respond with a definitive “yes” or “no” as to whether the Deadman’s Cay clinic has coronavirus testing kits, but she repeated: “We have what we have available right now, because you have to realise with this coronavirus, too, we can’t be testing everybody.
“If we test everybody then we won’t have any money to buy food to eat. So we have to test people who are basically symptomatic, and if you come into contact with other people who have had the coronavirus, so we can’t go around testing everybody otherwise we won’t have food to eat.
“So we have what we need, and what is available at this time, and as they get more stuff it will become available to us. But as I speak the things that we need we have at this point. Everything else, we can only get the other stuff as it comes in, and I think right now the government is basically doing their best to get those things in,” Dr Carter added.
“Everybody can’t be tested for this virus. People need to stay home. We can’t test everybody because you may not have it this week, and you may not get it until next week, so what do we do to find you again and test you? No. We can’t do that.”
Ms de Goicoechea, though, said: “These boats have been here quite a while now. I don’t think that they are new people coming in. But I am not out there watching. I’m not watching the harbour so I don’t know what’s going on out there.
“I guess for the people who are watching the harbour, and who can see who’s moving about, maybe they are driving around and they shouldn’t be driving around. I’m pretty much in isolation. I am not out there and I have no desire to be out there.”
Asked whether visiting boaters are being tested for the coronavirus, Dr Carter replied: “They called me a couple of days ago, and I have already told them I am not seeing anybody because we shouldn’t have anybody coming in from these boats on the dock.
“I already told them the docks should be closed and no new people are supposed to be coming in here, because I am not going to test to examine anyone on any boat. They are going right back on the boat where they came from.
“That is why all of the other islands have the cases they do because we are allowing these people to come in. As far as I know nobody is supposed to be coming in. Anybody who is there in terms of docking out there they are out there and not coming into the dock per se.”
Telling any remaining boaters to “go back where you come from and be tested”, Dr Carter reiterated: “We cannot test everybody. People need to stay home and this virus will go away with the heat. We can’t test everybody because we won’t have any money to buy food..... We have to be wise. The government cannot test everybody.”
Ms de Goicoechea, meanwhile, said “everybody is doing what they have to do” on Long Island to comply with the 24-hour curfew and business community lockdown enforced by the government’s Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Order.
“There are just a couple of cars moving about here, just essential people moving about. No crowds are gathering anywhere and everyone is just doing what they can,” she added.
“I don’t hear anybody complaining. Of course, the only thing that’s being commented about is people wondering how long it’s going to go on, and wondering what the outcome will be for the economy and so forth, but that’s not something we can project right now.
“People are concerned and they are doing everything they can. They are following the restrictions and the guidelines. Everybody is doing what they can to keep the virus out of the island now.”
Ms de Goicoechea said the five-room vacation rental property she runs is already empty following a series of cancellations. “I know that Stella Maris is closed down, and I heard that Cape Santa Maria was closing down, and that’s really the only hotels we have on the island,” she added.