30 Guests Positive For Coronavirus After LI Country Club Wedding

CUTCHOGUE, NY _ A wedding on the North Fork left a third of the 91 guests testing positive for the coronavirus, County Executive Steve Bellone said Wednesday.

The wedding, held on October 17 at the North Fork Country Club in Cutchogue, led to 30 positive coronavirus tests among guests and those working at the event, all of whom are under isolation— as well as 159 contacts now currently under quarantine, Bellone said.

Bellone said recent “super spreader” events have led to a crackdown and amped up enforcement. To that end, the North Fork Country Club was issued a notice for violating New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order that non-essential gatherings should have no more than 50 guests. In addition, he said, the business receive a notice for violating Suffolk County’s sanitary code.

The Suffolk County Health Department has recommended that the North Fork Country Club receive the maximum fine of $15,000 for violation of the executive order and $2,000 for violating the Suffolk County sanitary code, Bellone said.

“Because of this wedding, this country club now faces potential fines of $17,000,” he said.

Bellone’s office did not immediately respond to a question about whether the business could see its liquor license suspended, as other businesses have, for violating the executive order on non-essential gatherings.

In addition, Bellone said a Farmingville resident who hosted a house party with more than 200 people last weekend will also be fined up to $2,500, the first resident to be fined for violating the governor’s executive order.

The resident was also issued field appearance tickets by police for charges including second degree criminal nuisance and allowing consumption of alcohol to minors under 21, Bellone said.

Third, Bellone said the Department of Health Services is monitoring a recent “spreader” event on October 17 where 26 people out of the 50 present tested positive for the virus after attending a birthday party in Bellport.

That event, he said, did not violate Cuomo’s executive order in regard to gatherings but did lead to more than half the guests testing positive.

All of those who tested positive, as well as 132 contacts, are in quarantine now, Bellone said.

“This blatant disregard for others is not only disappointing,” but also has consequences, Bellone said. “If you are caught you will be held responsible. We have literally come too far and been through too much pain and anxiety, too much harm to people’s lives and the economy. Families are still in crisis and businesses are still struggling to survive,” Bellone said. “We have come incredibly far — and this kind of activity is what threatens to bring us back.”

Between the wedding and the birthday party, there are 56 positive cases of coronavirus and nearly 300 quarantined, Bellone said.

Bellone said the county does not believe there is any further community spread related to the two events; he thanked the health department for their “incredible work” with contract tracing and subsequent investigation.

As Halloween weekend approaches, Bellone said, it’s important to remember how quickly the virus can spread at gatherings, with guests leaving to spread coronavirus in their homes, places of work, and to others.

“I understand people’s frustration with the situation we are all in. . .But look at what is happening in other parts of the country right now. Look at what’s happening in Europe, where they are talking about major lockdowns. We do not want that to happen and we are determined to do everything we can to see continued progress and our economic recovery from this virus,” Bellone said.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said while COVID-19 infection rates remain low countywide it’s important to remain vigilant.

“As a parent, I understand the difficulty of having teens cooped up, but this is not the environment for large gatherings,” she said. Those events, she added, can have “horrendous consequences”, including not only the repercussions involved with potential teen drinking but also the possibility of a “chain reaction of COVID-19,” with family members affected and schools closed.

The North Fork Country Club in Cutchogue closed for 14 days after people tested positive for the coronavirus following a wedding at the facility, according to Suffolk County officials.

Management at the club confirmed to Patch Saturday that the country club closed last Thursday for 14 days.

“We reached out to Department of Health and we are working with them to provide all information needed,” the business said in a statement. “In respect of our employees and in compliance with HIPPA we are not able to disclose the health status of our employees.”

Bellone’s office shared information about isolation and quarantine protocols, which can be found on the Suffolk County website.

Suffolk County health officials “strongly” urged catering halls and persons wishing to hold an event to follow New York State guidance for food services during the pandemic, county officials said.

In September, Giorgio’s Baiting Hollow, a popular Long Island wedding venue, had its liquor license suspended after the New York State’s task force reported that 95 people, almost twice the legal limit, attended a reception, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

That news led to an outcry from lawmakers and business owners who said they believe livelihoods are on the line and catering facilities should be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity.

Earlier in October, a Sweet 16 at a Miller Place catering hall led to 37 coronavirus cases and a total of 81 guests quarantined — the event also led to closure of a local high school; that event is now considered Suffolk County’s first “super spreader” event, Bellone said.

This article originally appeared on the North Fork Patch

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