Suffolk County Police officers broke up a gathering in Brookhaven early Monday morning, which they estimated to be about 300 to 400 people, thus violating Covid-19 regulations that limit residential gatherings to 10.
Multiple neighbors, as well as the homeowner, who was not at the house during the incident, called 911 to report a sea of cars and people heading to the home at 51 Hawkins Lane, located at the end of a dead end. Officers responded at about 12:25 a.m.
“There’s no question that an event like this is a public health issue,” said Stuart Cameron, Suffolk County’s Chief of Police. “The department is committed to taking enforcement action on this, locating the responsible party and making sure they’re held accountable.”
Cameron and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told reporters about the incident during a news conference today. Bellone said that the host of the party was renting the house through short-term rental app Airbnb and that the homeowner has been cooperating with authorities.
The Airbnb listing for this property states that parties and events are not allowed and “we don’t allow more than 8 people on the property.” The house rules also list Covid-19 guidelines.
Officers were on the scene for more than four hours ensuring people drove away from the party safely, Cameron said. They said that many guests had just arrived and were still in their cars, so police were able to break up the party before people put themselves at risk of spreading the virus.
The investigation is ongoing, and officials say they plan to press charges when they find the individual responsible for the party.
“We have worked too hard, we have overcome too much, to allow some really selfish and reckless individuals really set back our efforts to continue to protect people’s health,” Bellone said, “and to move our economic recovery forward, and that’s what these events represent.”
This potential superspreader event comes when Suffolk County has a confirmed Covid-19 positivity rate of 5.2 percent, which is at its highest since May 17, Bellone said. Suffolk has 238 Covid-19 patients hospitalized and 46 in ICU.
“These numbers are alarming, to say the least,” Bellone said. “There can be no doubt now that we are in that second wave that we talked about for so long.”
In the month of November alone, Suffolk’s Covid-19 positivity rate surged from 1 percent on Nov. 1 to about 5 percent today, Dec. 1. To combat the sharp rise in cases, Suffolk has increased its contact tracing team from 30 investigators to more than 200.
Suffolk has also added new community testing sites in Riverhead and Patchogue, Bellone said. A list of testing sites can be found at suffolkcountyny.gov/covid19.
Today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Long Island’s infection rate is 3.9 percent.
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