Sweet Sixteen Party Becomes 'Superspreader Event' After 37 People Contract COVID

Another 270 people who came in contact with the confirmed cases are now required to quarantine

Birthday cake with candle number 16.
Photo: Getty

A Sweet Sixteen party that violated indoor gathering limits has become a “superspreader event” with 37 people contracting COVID-19, officials in Long Island, New York said.

Along with the 37 confirmed cases, an additional 270 people are now required to quarantine, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

The party, held Sept. 25 at Miller Place Inn, had 81 attendees — 49 students and 32 adults — exceeding New York state’s indoor gathering limit of 50. Additionally, the guests did not all wear masks or social distance, officials said.

The venue, Miller Place Inn, has been fined $10,000 for violating the executive order on gatherings during the pandemic, and an additional $2,000 for a sanitary code violation.

"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.

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Of the 37 people who have since tested positive, 29 attended the party, seven were people who lived with party guests and one was a close contact of an attendee. No one connected to the party is hospitalized for COVID-19 at this time, officials said.

The county identified the party as a possible superspreader event after looking into a spike in cases in the Sachem school district. They confirmed the first case from the party on Sept. 30, and after contact tracing determined that 36 other cases in the area had stemmed from the party.

One school, Sachem High School North, has identified 15 cases among their students and shut down in-person learning on Oct. 1.

Public health officials have instructed 270 people who came in contact with the positive cases, including students and parents from 35 different schools, to quarantine.

"There is no precise definition of what a superspreader 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 superspreader event."

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