Residents irked by lack of mask wearing, enforcement as COVID-19 cases increase throughout village

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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases throughout the Village of Great Neck have increased by 58 over the past month. (Photo from the Island Now archives)

Residents in the Village of Great Neck have expressed concerns about the lack of enforcement regarding protective face coverings and masks as the number of coronavirus cases in the village and Great Neck peninsula continues to rise.

According to figures provided by the Nassau County Department of Health, the Village of Great Neck has seen an increase of 58 cases from Aug. 24 (233 cases) to Sunday (291 cases).  Some residents shared stories of groups of people poking fun at or disrespecting those who wear masks outdoors.

“Whenever I walk out my door my mask is around my neck, and the moment I see someone it goes right up,” village resident Jean Pierce said. “There are plenty of people walking in groups on the weekends, and there’s not a mask in sight.”

Pierce said she went to check in on a friend over the weekend when she noticed a group of people beginning to mock her and verbally insult her for wearing a mask on the sidewalk.

“People literally laugh at you if you put [a mask] on,” she said. “I had one man tell me that because I’m old, I shouldn’t even be walking outside.  People just don’t get it. It’s like the virus doesn’t exist to them.”

Fellow resident Judy Rosenthal shared a similar instance of groups of people making a mockery of others trying to adhere to the state-mandated safety protocols. According to Rosenthal, she and her husband were walking the residential streets of Baker Hill in a face covering, when people without masks began to approach.

“One group easily observed I was holding back and started pretend coughing,” Rosenthal said. Rosenthal spoke of another occasion where “a man on a scooter saw my husband and I were stopped (to engage with a friend in a temporarily stopped vehicle) but the man on the scooter kept coming at us. Before we knew it, he was on top of my husband and without a mask.”

Rosenthal also said the lack of social distancing and face coverings were prominent throughout Memorial Park before the start of Yom Kippur late afternoon Sunday.

“I fear the mayor of Village of Great Neck and park commissioners care more about being liked and re-elected than performing the intensely difficult task ahead of them – saving lives,” Rosenthal said. “Residents are furious at being vulnerable to other’s aggression. This is a political war, the lines have been drawn. Residents want action. I want action.”

Resident Chris Knauer said the problem, from her point of view, is the amount of younger people not wearing masks or face coverings.

Fellow village resident Amy Glass shared Rosenthal’s sentiment of wanting to see more being done from those in leadership positions in the village, such as Mayor Pedram Bral. Glass asked Bral what he could do to urge residents to wear masks and socially distance both indoors and outdoors during a Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 15.

“I have heard [Bral] say that he does take COVID seriously, and would like to see people following the recommended behaviors,” Glass said. “It’s hard for me to figure why he doesn’t take a more active role.”

During the Sept. 15 meeting, Bral said the increase in cases is something the village must pay close attention to.

“I think it’s something we need to take extremely seriously,” Bral said. “There are many parties that are being held indoors with minimum or no social distancing and almost no masks.”

Glass asked the board who is in charge of helping the village control the spread of the virus, and asked if a bulk phone call blast could aid in spreading the message of awareness to abide by state-mandated health and safety measures.

“The village does not have the ability to enforce this code. Fire marshals and health departments are the ones that do so,” Bral said. “Our code enforcement are for traffic and for building codes. Besides that, unfortunately, we cannot go to people’s homes and stop them from having parties.”

Bral said the people having large, indoor parties without abiding by proper safety measures should be expected to be reported by others.

Efforts to reach the 6th Precinct in Nassau County, which serves the village, for comment on what measures have been taken were unavailing.

Last week on Facebook, Bral made several posts continuing to warn the Great Neck community about the virus and the importance of taking proper safety precautions such as wearing a mask and socially distancing.  Bral also spoke on a “request to name and shame” certain members or groups.

“Despite some request to name and shame I will refuse to do so [e]specially to generalize about one community,” Bral said. “I did not like it when they did it to our Chinese-American community, I did not like it when they did it to our Black community, I did not like it when they did it to the Orthodox community, and I do not like it when they do it to the Persian community. Generalization [is] usually racist or can be construed as racist. We must all refrain from doing so. There are individu[a]ls in every community who do not abide by the guidelines.”

Bral also mentioned the increase of confirmed coronavirus cases in peninsula and the nation.  According to the county data, the Great Neck peninsula has seen the number of cases increase from 910 on Aug. 24 to 1,035 on Sunday, an increase of 125.

Some residents also pointed out a discrepancy with numbers between the county Department of Health and Newsday.  According to the county, the Village of Great Neck had 291 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.  According to Newsday, the village had 347 cases.

While efforts to reach a county representative for comment were unavailing, the county’s map has another area listed as “Great Neck,” directly south of Great Neck Estates and west of Lake Success, with 56 cases as of Wednesday.  Adding the 56 cases to the 291 from the village results in the 347 figure.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Please publish my responses to Mayor Bral’s cowardly, weak, confused, and irrelevant response to stop the spread of Covid 19. We all must follow the rules for health and safety. Covid doesn’t discriminate. Wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance and caring about yourself, your family, and your community have nothing to do with race, skin color, religion, age, sex, or national origin.

  2. The mayor’s response is totally inadequate. What good is posting a message on Facebook? He has thousands of constituents, many of whom do NOT use Facebook. How about posting signs publicly throughout the village? How about using his code enforcement officers to work with the health department and issue warnings? He is so afraid of alienating his supporters, he tap dances around the truth of the matter, which is that there IS one group consistently flaunting the public health law and holding large gatherings. It’s not “naming and shaming” when there is photographic and video evidence of Persian weddings being held in violation of the law. It’s speaking the truth. And the truth is, anyone who is holding large gatherings is breaking the law and endangering our entire Great Neck community.

    • Nina, I looked into you and saw your Instagram page.. I can tell youre sadly off so I will keep this short.
      Stay indoors and don’t leave until there is a vaccine. The majority of people don’t beileve the severity of Corona like you do nor do they want to policed by someone who “loves to sing to cats”
      And, If you or whoever doesnt like the fact that people in Great Neck don’t wear masks, put your house up for sale and move to another town or country like China that adheres to masks.
      If you choose to stay in Great Neck, stay indoors and zip your mouth.

      • Who are you to decide whether to ruin an entire neighborhood’s safety with your own reckless noncompliant behavior Mr. Butts? The reason why America has the highest infection rates is exactly due to the bastard mentality that you have of living in a little fairyland of not taking a pandemic seriously.

  3. Robin Bernstein, Nina Gordon, how do you think the mayor can control these outbreaks? the Village of GN does not have a police force: Kings Point does, and that is where the videoed weddings and affairs took place. Why doesn’t Kings Point enforce? The mayor was the first to shut restaurants, synagogues, and any places of assembly in March, the first to send messages to the public about mask wearing and social distancing. It seems like you two just want to use Bral as a scapegoat. Why not ask these questions to the mayors of Kings Point and GNE? The restaurants, gyms, bakeries, etc. ARE following the rules. Do you want or expect code enforcement to go to people’s homes to check for compliance? Should traffic enforcement issue health violations? No other mayor in Great Neck has informed the public about how to stay safe during the Covid pandemic more than Bral. It seems that your goal is to shame the Persian community, when noncompliance is not limited to one group.

  4. The picture shows the village hall of “The Village of Great Neck!!!!!”

    Mayor Bral was the first official on Long Island to mandating wearing facemask n closure of public gatherings n constantly talking about being careful. He was the first official who raised the red flag.

    There are 9 villages in the Great neck peninsula plus unincorporated areas. Use of the photo of this village hall is really inappropriate

  5. To “Seymore Butts” – that’s a clever pseudonym, middle school humor. You looked at my Instagram page and you decided I’m “off” – why? Because you have no sense of humor? LOL
    Seriously though – the President of the United States is now hospitalized with this virus that you don’t believe is real. I’m not staying home, nor am I moving to China. I am following public health guidelines.

    And to “Non Persian Observer” (another clever pseudonym) – why are you afraid to use your real name? There is plenty that Mayor Bral can do. He can put up signs. Yes, he can enforce fines on synagogues and other places in the village that are violating public health laws. He can work with the health department, as Town of North Hempstead officials are doing. My goal is not to shame anyone. My goal is to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus in Great Neck. You are the one who brought up “Persian” – both in your fake name and in your unfounded accusation against me. I did not mention anything about any particular group other than the people who refuse to follow the law.

  6. I think the fact that the president and his circle have covid should be reason enough for those who have followed his lead should finally wear masks and distance. For those who advise protocol followers to stay in our basements don’t understand that universal mask wearing will get all of us back to functioning normally. This is data driven, respectful, kind, pragmatic and community minded. Enforcing this protects us all.

  7. As a new resident to Great Neck, I was looking forward to raising my children in a historic and diverse community with excellent schools, like the community I grew up in. I have been surprised to see disregard for science and illegal activities among people of all races and ages in Great Neck. For example, while inside Dunkin Donuts on Middle Neck Road, I was surprised to see most of the customers not observing social distance despite the clearly marked signs on the ground. In addition, many patrons waiting for their food had pulled down their masks to drink coffee inside the store. At Everfresh on Middle Neck Road, I saw a 40-60 year old man pull down his mask so he could sneeze, then do it again a minute later. I see very few parents wearing masks on crowded playgrounds. I hoped that this could be our home but I do not wish these values into my children, back to the drawing board.

  8. If you observe an irresponsible party in progress, I would call Nassau County police. I’ve heard Kings Point and Village of Great Neck leadership have been impotent at protecting against harm in this context. Could be that they don’t have jurisdiction to effect change here or could be that they’re too scared to anger big money and popular residents responsible for these parties. Either way, would go straight to Nassau County for results where possible

  9. If you observe an irresponsible party in progress, I would call Nassau County police. I’ve heard Kings Point and Village of Great Neck leadership have been impotent at protecting against harm in this context. Could be that they don’t have jurisdiction to effect change here or could be that they’re too scared to anger big money and popular residents responsible for these parties. Either way, would go straight to Nassau County for results where possible

  10. The Mayors have to get together and get a letter out – contact the police and tell th to start pulling over and handing out tickets, hopefully with doves of $500 or more.
    Blatantly disrespectful and ignorant attitude by people. Unamerican!!!

  11. Nina, you’re barking at a wrong tree. You live in the Plaza. Obsessing with Bral not going to solve your issues. Also just FYI, places of worship are exempt from 50 people cap.

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