Coronavirus: Sweet 16 ‘super-spreader’ party in NY sickens 37, draws $12K fine

MILLER PLACE, N.Y. — Dozens of people who attended a Sept. 25 “Sweet 16” party on Long Island have contracted the novel coronavirus, prompting health officials to label the unsanctioned gathering a “super-spreader” event.

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A total of 37 people who attended the party, including 28 youth and nine adults, have tested positive for COVID-19, and 270 others have been instructed to self-quarantine, WLNY reported.

“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 told the TV station.

The party, which drew 81 attendees, was held at the Miller Place Inn on Long Island, about 65 miles east of Manhattan, NBC News reported.

The inn has been fined a total of $12,000 for hosting the event: $10,000 for violating COVID-19 restrictions and an additional $2,000 for violating Suffolk County’s sanitary code, WLNY reported.

According to NBC News, emergency state health codes limit gatherings to 50 people or 50% of room capacity, whichever is the smaller number.

The Suffolk County health department told the TV station it learned of the party in late September when the Sachem School District began reporting COVID-19 cases. Cases have now been detected in eight different schools.

“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.

The venue’s owner told WLNY by phone that he and his staff were unaware of the 50-person limit and that no government agency notified them.

“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,” said Miller Place Inn co-owner Christopher Regina, noting the venue has voluntarily closed.

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