MILLER PLACE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Sweet Sixteen party on Long Island is now considered a superspreader event as it’s being blamed for dozens of positive coronavirus cases.
A total of 37 people — 28 students and nine adults — tested positive for COVID-19, and 270 people were instructed to self-quarantine.
“In Suffolk County, we have not seen an event like this before at any time throughout this pandemic. For Suffolk County, this was a superspreader event. This is the first time that the health department has taken enforcement action against a business,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.
The venue, the Miller Place Inn, has been slapped with a $10,000 fine for violating COVID restrictions.
There were 81 guests indoors at the Sept. 25 party, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports. State regulations limit capacity to under 50 people.
The venue was also hit with an additional $2,000 fine for violating Suffolk County’s sanitary code.
The Suffolk County health department says it learned of the party in late September when they started seeing positive cases in the Sachem School District.
“The county health department initiated a comprehensive contact tracing investigation, contacting the host of the event to obtain a copy of the guest list, which was provided voluntarily,” Bellone said.
Bellone says there is no community spread but “we’re not out of the woods yet and we need everyone to remain vigilant.”
Watch Carolyn Gusoff’s report —
Health officials say eight schools have COVID cases tracing back to this party, including the Sachem School District, which had to go fully remote in October.
“I feel bad for the kids. There’s not a lot for them to do, but I don’t think there’s really any excuse for that,” Sachem parent Carolyn Benson told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
“You think it’s just, oh, it’s just whatever, then it turns into a big thing and sooner or later a school shuts down,” student Billy Curtain said.
Sachem student Samantha Brunetto says she’s upset with her classmates for pausing her in-person learning.
“It really just messed up school for a bunch of people that are now home, and some of them aren’t even going back to school, so it ruined it for a bunch of people,” she said.
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The venue’s owner, reached by phone, said they meant no one harm but were unaware of the 50-person limit and no government agency notified them. They’ve since ceased operations.
“We thought we were operating underneath the 50%, and we had no idea that we were supposed to be at 50 total occupants with kitchen and staff,” Miller Place Inn co-owner Christopher Regina said.
The county executive says this venue has had prior visits and warnings. They were also cited for lack of social distancing and mask compliance, adding, “We cannot have superspreading events like this. We don’t want to move backwards.”
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