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Many resources to fight coronavirus in Baldwin

Library, fire department and supermarkets offer services

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As coronavirus spreads through New York, local supermarkets and agencies have focused on helping the area’s most vulnerable residents.

Local supermarket Gala Fresh Farms, at 2485 Grand Ave., last week implemented early hours for customers over age 60 and those who are disabled. From 7 to 8 a.m., only those over 60 and the disabled were allowed to shop in the store.

“We want to help the community, the most vulnerable,” Franky Jorge, owner of Gala Fresh, said, “and make sure they’re taken care of.”

The grocery store also delivers food to older individuals and takes email and phone orders in special cases. For more information, visit shopgalafresh.com.

Jorge also said prices are expected to increase, noting he has seen updated costs on eggs and meat.

Stop & Shop, at 905 Atlantic Ave., also began opening earlier to allow older adults to shop before the rush of people, who have been clearing shelves. From 6 to 7:30 a.m., the store was open for customers ages 60 and older.

“I think it’s the right thing to do because elderly people are coming in later, and it’s like first come, first serve, and it’s just not fair,” Desiree Perez, assistant store manager, said, adding that water bottle cases have been limited to one per customer to keep supplies available for older adults.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Matilda’s Law, meant to protect individuals ages 70 and older, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying illnesses. The measure requires them to stay home and limit home visitation to immediate family members or close friends who need emergency assistance, according to Cuomo. If visits are necessary, both individuals should wear masks, and visitors should be pre-screened by taking their temperature and observing any flu-like symptoms.

Local restaurants, including Novi New Old Venice Inn and A Touch of Italy, are offering services like pickup and delivery to local residents.

Cuomo also announced New York State on PAUSE, an executive order requiring non-essential businesses statewide to close beginning March 22. It also bans non-essential gatherings of any size for any reason. And the governor announced a 90-day moratorium on residential or commercial evictions.

Baldwin Public Library employees have encouraged local residents to use their community resources, which include e-books, audiobooks, live tutoring, language courses and test preparation. Residents without an existing library card are offered digital library cards to provide access to these resources.

Additionally, the library’s social work graduate intern, Molly Miskiewicz, has offered to help anyone unable to acquire essentials like food, water and clothing. Her role at the library is new, and she has connected residents to resources.

In the last week, Miskiewicz’s inbox has been flooded with messages from local residents offering donations to people in need. She has connected about a dozen people with resources.

She was surprised, she said, when she discovered a desperate need for mental health resources right now. “I think everyone is panicking and worrying about what’s going on with the state of our existence,” Miskiewicz said. “It’s easy to sit in your house and worry about everything.”

While she is typically in the library for a few hours a few times a week, she has worked remotely recently. She encouraged patrons to call, message, text or email her.

“There’s so many resources for people, and we’re all just here to help,” she said, adding that the library has been “phenomenal” in making resources available through the library’s website and online platforms, including Zoom, a videoconferencing service. 

During office hours, patrons can visit Miskiewicz and talk to her about whatever is going on their lives and whatever they need help with, she said. She plans to use Zoom to connect with people.

“It’s kind of centered around this idea that libraries are no longer this place of just books, and rather, libraries have become these places where people can go when they need things, when they need help with things, when they have questions and don't really know where to go,” Miskiewicz said. “That’s kind of largely the premise of library social work.

Additionally, Baldwin Fire Department Chief Lee Streithorst, in a message to the community, said firefighters remain vigilant, available and ready to respond to fire and medical emergencies.

Streithorst said BFD is in constant contact with the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management, as well as the Nassau County Emergency Operations Command, police and fire marshals, maintaining real-time information about the ever-changing situation.

“The over 200 firefighters of the Baldwin Fire Department stand ready 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” he wrote in the message. “We are dedicated to your safety. Every day we respond to your emergencies, we consider it a privilege to protect and serve you. During these trying times, rest assured, ‘We are in this together, Baldwin strong.’”