Nearly 40 people tested positive for COVID-19 after a Sweet 16 party that’s been dubbed a “superspreader event,” officials in New York say.
Miller Place Inn, a Long Island event venue, hosted a Sweet 16 party on Sept. 25 with 81 guests, including 49 students, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a news release Tuesday.
Since then, officials say 37 people have tested positive for COVID-19 — 29 who attended the party, seven “household contacts” and one “a close contact of someone who attended.”
“This was an egregious violation and should serve as a stark reminder of the consequences that exist for flouting COVID-19 protocols,” Bellone said. “These rules and regulations exist for a reason — to keep New Yorkers safe — and we all have an obligation to act responsibly.”
Officials said 270 people are currently in quarantine and 11 are in isolation, adding that several have already finished their quarantine period. In total, 334 contacts were identified.
Officials were alerted to the event after the Sachem School District reported several cases of COVID-19 to the county Department of Health Services beginning Sept. 30. Contact tracing tracked the outbreak to the Sweet 16 party, officials said.
“This cluster should serve as a stark reminder of the consequences of violating COVID-19 rules and regulations,” Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said in the release.
County officials issued a public hearing notice to the venue on Saturday, which is charged with “causing, permitting and serving as the venue for an indoor gathering of more than 50 persons” and not enforcing state and county COVID-19 restrictions.
In New York state, non-essential gatherings are capped at 50 people or 50% capacity, whichever is lower.
The venue was fined $10,000 for violations of public health and executive orders as well as $2,000 for operating under unsanitary conditions, officials said.
Christopher Regina, co-owner and manager of the venue, said he and the other owners “understood (they) were operating under the guidelines set forth by the county and the state,” adding that he didn’t know about the sanitary code violation, Newsday reported.
“My attorney will advise us what the next step is,” Regina said. “We do not know if the infection was proved to be caused at our facility.”
Suffolk County has had 47,761 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the onset of the pandemic, according to county health department data through Oct. 12.