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Sweet 16 party leads to 37 COVID-19 cases, over 250 people quarantined

Over 250 people were placed under quarantine or isolation after a sweet 16 party with 81 attendees.
TODAY Illustration / Getty Images

A sweet 16 "superspreader" event held at a venue in Suffolk County, Long Island led to 37 COVID-19 positive cases, according to the county's Department of Health Services.

81 people attended the event, which was held on Sept. 25, according to a guest list that was provided to the health department. Out of those attendees, 29 tested positive for the coronavirus; an additional seven positive cases came from household contacts of those who attended the party, and one positive case was a "close contact of an individual" who went to the party, according to the department.

The event and subsequent diagnoses led to hundreds of quarantines: Health officials identified 334 contacts associated with party attendees. 270 of those contacts are under quarantine and 11 are in isolation. Since the event was more than 14 days ago, some people have already finished their quarantine periods.

Since many at the event were students, local schools were also impacted. The department reported that eight schools have reported positive cases in connection to the party. At one school, which was not named, at least 74 students were "impacted." The health department first began contact tracing cases after several positive cases were reported in the Sachem School District, beginning Sept. 30, about five days after the party.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services took immediate action, and contacted the hosts of the event to obtain a copy of the guest list, which was provided voluntarily. Once health officials received the list of 81 guests, including 49 students and 32 adults, the department quarantined the entire guest list and entered the contact information into the county’s contact tracing system.

Due to the quarantine and isolation measures, there is no community spread at this time, according to Dr. Gregson Pigott, the county health commissioner.

"This cluster should serve as a stark reminder of the consequences of violating COVID-19 rules and regulations," Pigott said in a press release.

The venue where the sweet 16 was held, the Miller Place Inn, has been charged with "causing, permitting, and serving as the venue for an indoor gathering of more than 50 persons." According to the county health department, the venue did not follow state and county restrictions, which limit non-essential gatherings to 50 or fewer people or 50% of a venue's capacity, whichever is less. The venue was also charged with operating a food establishment in an unsanitary condition.

"This was an egregious violation and should serve as a stark reminder of the consequences that exist for flouting COVID-19 protocols,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in a press release. "These rules and regulations exist for a reason — to keep New Yorkers safe — and we all have an obligation to act responsibly."

The Miller Place Inn did not respond to a request for comment from TODAY, but the venue's manager, Christopher Regina, told NBC 4 New York that the venue wasn't "aware we were breaking the law" and said that there was "no clarification of the state guidelines."

Regina also said that the venue "voluntarily closed" on Thursday, Oct. 8. The venue faces fines up to $12,000.