A Man In Charge - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1787227

A Man In Charge

I want to highlight the incredible work of Mayor Jesse Warren in ensuring that Southampton Village was safe and healthy during the pandemic.

I worked as director of infectious diseases at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital at the time and currently work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency across the country at emergency field hospitals. I formerly served with Doctors Without Borders in Darfur during the genocide.

I understand the importance of responsible leadership during a public health crisis. COVID-19 was a test of all politicians’ leadership capabilities in the face of adversity, and Mayor Warren proved he can maintain his trademark get-it-done spirit under even the most unfamiliar and difficult of circumstances.

I had the opportunity to collaborate with Mayor Warren on a series of livestream broadcasts that he hosted on his Instagram, during which I answered residents’ questions about the pandemic and shared advice for staying healthy. I was impressed by how proactive and creative he was in spreading accurate information about the pandemic, especially at a time when the media was rife with misinformation. He utilized his social media platform to reach residents directly and make himself available to all.

For much time during the year, I was traveling on COVID-19 work. He would still find me and make sure we continued with our scheduled broadcasts, be it in Brazil or Mexico. I have had hundreds of responses from people in our community who say our updates are the only recommendations they follow. This potentially saved hundreds of lives.

His on-the-ground efforts were equally as impressive. He made sure that Stony Brook Southampton Hospital had a sufficient supply of N95 masks, ventilators, gowns and oxygen tanks, even when these essential resources were in scarce supply.

He was the first mayor in New York State to mandate mask wearing, a decision that initially generated controversy but later proved to be a crucial component of keeping residents safe. Southampton Village also was the first village on the East End to create COVID-19 testing sites, and the village continued to hold drive-thru testing sites in collaboration with Baseline Health throughout the pandemic. He also made personal phone calls to hundreds of senior residents to ensure that every senior resident who wanted a vaccine received one by mid-March.

I applaud Mayor Warren for a job well done. Should there ever be another pandemic, this is the man I would want leading the fight against a dangerous pathogen.

Rajeev Fernando, M.D