Suffolk Warns of Riverhead Friendly’s COVID-19 Cluster, Thanksgiving Eve Parties

2020-09-18T202712Z_1946279183_RC281J9J2C7U_RTRMADP_3_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-REGENERON (1)
A medical technician works at a drive-thru coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility at the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals company in New York on September 17, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A cluster of coronavirus cases at the Friendly’s restaurant in Riverhead recently emerged as Suffolk County officials are concerned that the night before Thanksgiving, the biggest party night of the year for young people, will cause the next outbreaks.

Anyone who visited the eatery on Nov. 5 or 6 should monitor themselves for symptoms, self quarantine, and get tested for COVID-19, as six people have tested positive from that cluster, county health officials said. And college students should avoid gatherings typically held when they return home to Long Island on Thanksgiving eve, officials urged.

“We are particularly concerned about the night before Thanksgiving,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told reporters during a news conference Tuesday. “We’re continuing to encourage people to limit their gatherings because we do know this is where the virus is spreading throughout the county.”

The advisories came as the infection rate for Long Island was at 3.5 percent on Sunday and Monday, up from 2.7% on Saturday, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor recently capped gatherings to 10 people and ordered bars, restaurants with liquor licenses, and gyms closed at 10 p.m. to curb the spread of the virus, which is entering its second wave nationwide. That is likely to drive college student parties to homes, Bellone said.

“Despite our success in managing the spread, New York is not immune to this national surge of COVID,” Cuomo said. “Our micro-cluster strategy and testing capacity will help us through this new season, but ensuring we don’t go back to where we were in the spring is going to depend on our behavior. We all have a part to play: Wear a mask, stay socially distant, avoid gatherings large and small, and wash your hands religiously.”

Before Friendly’s, Suffolk previously issued advisories for people who dined at two restaurants in Oakdale. State and local officials have also recently cited several catering halls on LI for hosting so-called super-spreader weddings and other parties that caused large outbreaks.

The latest warnings come as Bellone said there are more than 100 people hospitalized for treatment of coronavirus in the county, the most since June.

For more coronavirus coverage, visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus

Sign up for Long Island Press’ email newsletters hereSign up for home delivery of Long Island Press here. Sign up for discounts by becoming a Long Island Press community partner here.