As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, Suffolk County officials are expected to ramp up their contact tracing efforts.
The number of contact tracers, or case investigators in the county has more than doubled since Friday, Nov. 6, county executive Steve Bellone announced Nov. 10. That number is expected to increase in the coming days.
The decision comes after the county saw a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases following several small-scale Halloween gatherings, Bellone said.
During the first week in November, Suffolk had averaged a 2.17 percent positivity rate – which hasn’t occurred since June. The previous week’s average was 1.41 percent.
By Sunday, Nov. 8, the county’s infection level was above 3 percent – a number similar to what it was back in May, Bellone said.
“These numbers are very concerning, in fact, these numbers are disturbing, not only because what it potentially means for public health, but if we do not get these numbers under control … then we will threaten our continued economic recovery.”
Bellone noted that precautions must be taken at social gatherings and he referenced an Oct. 17 birthday party in Bellport. While it did not violate state guidelines of 50 individuals maximum, approximately 36 people who attended the event have tested positive for COVID-19, Bellone said.
Meanwhile, on Nov. 11, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services issued a warning to anyone who visited two Oakdale restaurants: Mannino’s Restaurant and The Village Idiot Irish Pub. The notice stated that restaurant visitors who stopped by between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 may have been exposed to COVID-19. They are advised to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after the day they visited.
Bellone urged people to get tested and noted that a list of all testing sites is available on the county website. Health insurance coverage is not required for all testing sites.
According to data from John Hopkins University, Suffolk has had 51,744 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Approximately 2,023 people in Suffolk have died. On Nov. 11, the county reported that there were 412 new coronavirus cases.