New Suffolk County COVID-19 cases rise above 100 for 1st time since May

Maya Rajamani
July 14, 2020 - 5:09 pm
Signs are placed on the beach to direct people on how to keep social distance during Memorial Day weekend on May 24, 2020 in Montauk, New York.

Astrid Riecken/Getty Images

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Suffolk County on Tuesday reported more than 100 new COVID-19 cases for the first time since May, and many residents who tested positive in recent weeks were 30 years old or younger, the county executive said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Tuesday reported 102 new positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the county’s case total to 42,214. The county hasn’t reported more than 100 new cases in a 24-hour span since May 31, Bellone said during a virtual news conference. 

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Approximately 42 percent of those who have tested positive since June 24 were age 30 or under, he said. Ten of the county’s ocean beach lifeguards that worked at Smith Point and Cupsogue Beach recently tested positive for COVID-19, he noted. The lifeguards likely contracted the virus at gatherings with fellow lifeguards during off-hours.

“My message to these young people who believe this virus doesn’t impact them is to think again,” he said. “The truth is, this virus impacts all of us.”

No one in Suffolk County has died of COVID-19 for three days straight, but the county’s positivity rate rose from 1.9 percent on Monday to 2.1 percent on Tuesday, he said.

“If that number climbs to 5 percent, we’re not going to be able to open our schools, and that will be terrible for kids and parents,” he said. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said schools in regions that have entered Phase 4 will only be able to reopen in the fall if the 14-day average for their daily infection rates remains below 5 percent. 

In a press release sent out Tuesday, Cuomo said a Fourth of July party in Suffolk County was linked to a new COVID-19 cluster, with 35 percent of the party’s guests testing positive for the virus. 

During the news conference, Bellone clarified the information Cuomo sent out, saying that only four of around 18 attendees — or approximately 22 percent of the party’s guests — have tested positive so far. 

“There were preliminary numbers involving people under investigation that we now confirmed, ultimately, were not positive,” he explained. “I think that’s where the discrepancy is.”

Nevertheless, the party is “an example of why it is critically important that we remain vigilant,” Bellone said. 

“I can assume that if there were this number of positive cases, this percentage… that we know somebody was positive, and they were in close proximity,” he said. “There are serious consequences here if we are not following the guidance, and we are not doing everything we need to do to keep this virus stamped out.”