Wealthy People Are Trying To Flee Cities To Escape Coronavirus, But No One Wants Them

'We don’t want your bugs,' said an angry resident of a coastal New Jersey city.

an empty boardwalk in a new jersey coastal city
BruceEmmerling / Pixabay

'We don’t want your bugs,' said an angry resident of a coastal New Jersey city.

Wealthy people are attempting to flee densely-packed cities like New York to vacation homes or short-term rentals, only to find that the locals are less than welcoming, The New York Times reports.

New York City has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, with 30,000 confirmed cases and 285 deaths, as of this writing, according to CNN. Health care workers describe the situation inside the city’s hospitals as “apocalyptic.”

Some families with the means to do so are looking to get out of the densely-packed urban area, hoping to flee to second homes in the Catskills, the Hamptons, the Jersey Shore. And they’re finding that local leaders and ordinary residents of the towns where they would go are not at all interested in having them there.

“We don’t want your bugs,” said Linda Michel, 71, of Surf City, on Long Beach Island in New Jersey. Michel is so keen to keep New Yorkers out of her town that she wants the bridge that connects her island community to the mainland to be closed to everyone except year-round residents.

In the Castkills community of Ashland, local resident Kim Langdon was clear that local cases of the coronavirus are being brought in by out-of-towners.

“They’re pumping gas. They’re stopping at grocery stores. If they’re infected and they don’t know it, they’re putting everyone at risk,” Langdon said.

a catskills mountain town
  JamesSammann / Pixabay

It’s not just the possibility of infected people bringing the virus to these communities: outsiders are also buying up groceries and other limited resources.

“We had people showing up to buy a lot of meat, and there were moments where we had to step in and say, ‘That’s too much.’ There’s no hard line on the meat, for example, but if it seems like more than what is fair, we say so,” said a Long Island grocer.

New Jersey Governor Philip Murphy, for his part, noted that a lot of towns are usually more than eager to welcome summer visitors — at least when there isn’t a worldwide pandemic going around. But during the off-season, and in particular, when kids are home from school and putting a strain on the cities’ internet infrastructure, out-of-towners aren’t welcome.

It’s not just in the New York exurbs that locals are trying to keep wealthy out-of-towners away.

In Florida, the governor has ordered anyone who comes to the Sunshine State from New York to go into quarantine for 14 days. In North Carolina, only full-time residents are allowed to the Outer Banks. In the mountain resort town of Truckee, California, short-term rentals are outlawed until further notice. And in Massachusetts, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, both islands, are closed to non-residents.