An illegal Sweet Sixteen party quickly turned into a "superspreader event" after 37 people contracted coronavirus. The group of 81 partygoers violated the New York state indoor gathering limit of 50 people, according to officials in Long Island, New York.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone explained during a statement on Tuesday, October 13, that along with the 37 positive cases, an additional 270 people are now required to quarantine. "This was an egregious violation and should serve as a stark reminder of the consequences that exist for flouting COVID-19 protocols. These rules and regulations exist for a reason — to keep New Yorkers safe — and we all have an obligation to act responsibly," Bellone said.
The birthday bash — which was held at Miller Place Inn on September 25 — included 49 students and 32 adults. Many attendees didn't wear masks or adhere to social distancing rules, officials revealed. The venue was fined $10,000 for violating the COVID-19 order and an additional $2,000 for a sanitary code violation.
Of the 37 who tested positive, 29 of those people were guests at the birthday bash. The other eight people lived with or were in close contact with the party guests. Luckily, no one linked to the event has been hospitalized.
Officials looked into the spike of cases in the Sachem school district and declared that this was a big deal. "There is no precise definition of what a superspreader event is," Bellone explained. "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 superspreader event."
The first COVID-19 case from the party was confirmed on September 30. After contact tracing, the officials confirmed the 36 other cases stemmed from the illegal gathering. Sachem High School North identified 15 cases and proceeded to shut down in-person learning on October 1.
Governor Andrew Cuomo praised Suffolk County on Wednesday, October 14, for their quick response while mocking the event. "They had a Sweet 16 party. How sweet. Yeah, it wasn’t that sweet," the Governor said. "Dozens of people from the Sweet 16 party got sick. It just shows you how one event can generate so many cases. But he (Bellone) took enforcement action, so good for him."