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Local News

Fifty-Six People Get COVID-19 After Attending Long Island Wedding and Birthday

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Fifty-Six People Get COVID-19 After Attending Long Island Wedding and Birthday

2020-10-30 18:34:18

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Steve Bellone (Image source: Screenshot)

A couple of big parties flouted the coronavirus restriction guidelines at a wedding and birthday party in Long Island, leading to an outbreak of 56 people. Nearly 300 were forced to quarantine after the events.

Ninety-one people gathered outside at the North Fork Country Club's lawns and in rooms lined with floor-to-ceiling windows for a wedding on October 17. Within two weeks, 30 of the guests had tested positive for COVID-19.

Suffolk County health officials said another 159 people who had potentially been exposed to the virus by people at the wedding were also forced to self-quarantine.

"One-third of all those in attendance," noted Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in a news conference. "Think about that for a second."

A fine of $17,000 was recommended against the club by county officials. A county sanitary code and statewide mandate restricting gatherings to no more than 50 people were violated. The State Liquor Authority has said it is investigating.

On that same day, a birthday party was held in Long Island. The guest list was limited to 50 names, yet 26 people tested positive for the coronavirus within the last two weeks, according to Bellone. Another 132 people were asked to self-quarantine due to possible exposure.

These weren't the only large events that bent the rules either. There have been many new cases that have been tied to parties in Suffolk County, and hundreds of residents are left quarantining after possible exposure.

"This type of blatant disregard for the well-being of others is not only extremely disappointing, it will not be tolerated," said Bellone on Wednesday. "If you violate the rules, you'll be caught and held responsible."

The county and state were once epicenters for the virus, so it's particularly concerning to officials that people are breaking the rules to possibly bring all that trouble back again. At least 33,219 have died in the state, and more than half a million have tested positive.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged residents on Wednesday to avoid family gatherings during the holidays.

"My personal advice is the best way to say, 'I love you,' this Thanksgiving, the best way to say, 'I'm thankful for you,' is to say, 'I love you so much, I'm so thankful for you, that I don't want to endanger you, and I don't want to endanger our family, and I don't want to endanger our friends. So we'll celebrate virtually,' " said Cuomo. "But that is my personal opinion."

Long Island has had its share of large parties. A Sweet 16 party was hosted at a banquet hall on September 25. It became the county's first "superspreader" event. Bellone shared that 37 guests tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the party, with 81 people attending. At least 270 had to quarantine after possibly being exposed at the party. The venue was fined $12,000.

There was another teenage party in Farmingville that led to multiple 911 calls on Saturday. Between 200 and 300 people were in one house, violating coronavirus restrictions and underage drinking laws. The homeowner was fined $2,500.

In Riverhead, 300 people went to a party with a live DJ on Friday.

County officials don't know yet whether these gatherings resulted in the spread of COVID-19, but the county health department is monitoring.

The October 17 birthday party was held in Bellport. The spread of the virus is being blamed on a lack of social distancing.

Public health officials believe the community spread between the wedding and the birthday party has been contained, but Bellone pointed out the consequences of holding such gatherings during the pandemic. 

"These kinds of superspreader events are a threat to our public health and our economic recovery," he said.

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