As positivity rates surge, Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone urged residents to remain diligent to prevent school closures. Over the last 10 days, he said, cases in Suffolk County have been increasing as the second wave seems to have arrived. Bellone said he blames the current 3 to 5 percent positivity rate on gatherings during the Halloween weekend.
“The big concern is that those numbers are going to surge even higher,” Bellone said, concerned about the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. “We need more than ever to do anything we can to avoid school closures and keep kids in school.”
As part of the county’s proactive approach to keep schools’ doors open, he said, they have ramped up contact tracers from 30 earlier this month to 200 as of late last week. The county has also launched a targeted testing program in schools, starting with Hampton Bays and Riverhead, to help isolate and contain those who have been exposed. During the pilot at Hampton Bays, approximately 400 students, teachers and staff were said to be tested as of Monday, Nov. 23.
“The spread we are seeing throughout Suffolk County is not happening inside schools,” he added, also noting that if the spread continues outside of school it will eventually make an impact inside.
Enforcement with significant fines has also been implemented for those who ignore the guidelines and host superspreader events. The county has also launched a social media campaign informing the public of the social host law and new gathering limitations. The night before Thanksgiving is typically a “party night” for younger people, and he hopes the campaign will remove the temptations for large home gatherings.