Sweet 16 party connected to 37 COVID-19 cases in ‘super-spreader’ event: Officials

By MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A Sweet 16 party at a Long Island, New York, catering hall is being called a COVID-19 “super-spreader event” that has now been connected to 37 confirmed cases, officials said.

The Sept. 25 celebration also caused 270 people to quarantine, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Tuesday during a press briefing.

The number of guests allegedly exceeded the state’s public gathering maximum of 50, and there was not widespread compliance with wearing face coverings or social distancing, officials said.

The venue, the Miller Place Inn in Miller Place, was hit with a $10,000 fine for violating the state’s executive order and public health law, Bellone said. It was also fined $2,000 for a sanitary code violation, he said.

The first case tied to the Sweet 16 party was confirmed on Sept. 30, Bellone said, as the Suffolk County health department was investigating a number of COVID-19 cases in the Sachem school district.

The health department voluntarily obtained a copy of the Sweet 16 guest list, which contained 81 guests — 49 students and 32 adults, officials said.

After entering the guest list into the county’s contact tracing system, the investigation identified 37 positive cases — nine adults and 28 students at eight different schools — connected to the party, officials said. Additionally, 270 people were placed under quarantine, including individuals at 35 schools, officials said.

“There is no precise definition of what a super-spreader event is,” Bellone said. “But in Suffolk County, we have not seen an event like this before at any time throughout this pandemic. For Suffolk County, this was a super-spreader event.”

This investigation marked the first time the county took action against a business during the pandemic, Bellone said.

“This cluster should serve as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of violating COVID-19 rules and regulations,” he said. “We do not want to see businesses shutting down and schools shutting down.”

Sachem High School North has been closed since Oct. 1 after identifying cases of COVID-19 connected to a social event held on the weekend of Sept. 25, school officials said. Since Sept. 30, the school has found 15 cases. It is slated to reopen for in-person learning on Wednesday.

There are no known hospitalizations connected to the event at this time, officials said.

ABC News was unable to reach the owners of the Miller Place Inn for comment. Co-owner and inn manager Christopher Regina told Newsday that he and the other owners “understood we were operating under the guidelines set forth by the county and the state.”

“My attorney will advise us what the next step is,” he told the publication. “We do not know if the infection was proved to be caused at our facility.”

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