COVID-19 cluster in Rockland County linked to house party, officials say

Henrietta Strickland
July 3, 2020

The event violated the state order in effect at the time when gatherings of 10 people or more were restricted in an effort to slow the coronavirus's spread.

A troubling cluster of COVID-19 cases has been linked to a NY party host who knew they had coronavirus symptoms and threw a bash anyway, but attendees are refusing to work with health officials to contain outbreak.

We are not receiving the necessary cooperation when we contact those who are positive for COVID-19 or those who had been at some of these gatherings. So did eight guests.

Officials in Rockland County, New York, say they will have no choice but to issue subpoenas to get people to talk to contact tracers trying to combat the spread of coronavirus. County officials quickly dispatched disease tracers to try to learn who else might have been exposed to the virus at the party. Those who do not comply face fines of $2,000 a day, according to officials.

'My staff has been told that a person does not have to or wish to speak to my disease investigators.

"Some people just don't maybe understand the importance of this, which, of course, with education we're trying to explain and have people understand the reason we need to find out who their contacts are, where they have been, when that was, so that we can continue to decrease the number of cases in NY", she said. Both parties were in New City - one on June 20; the other on June 27.

County Executive Ed Day said anyone who gets in the way of the health department's investigation will deal with consequences.

Tracking down everyone who has had contact with an infected person is considered crucial to containing the spread of an illness, but is hard.

She indicated that the eight people had declined interview requests to determine who else they were in contact with and prevent them from further spreading the virus. A similar step past year in the face of a measles epidemic proved to be successful, officials said.

A party host in Rockland County, New York threw a bash with over 100 guests despite knowing they had coronavirus symptoms on June 17, leading to a cluster of nine cases.

The blowout on June 17 in West Nyack led the host and eight partygoers to test positive for the contagious respiratory virus.

However, he said, the people's refusal to talk had forced the county to resort to subpoenas.

Ruppert, speaking at the news conference, emphasized the continuing public health threat that the pandemic poses, even in areas like Rockland County, where the numbers of infections, hospitalizations and deaths are well below what they were in March and April. That year saw a measles outbreak across the USA with a large cluster of 225 patients in Rockland, which led health officials to mandate measles vaccinations county-wide.

NY has been the hardest-hit state in the COVID-19 pandemic with almost 400,000 confirmed cases and almost 25,000 fatalities. As of Wednesday, official data showed, five people in the county were hospitalized with confirmed cases of the virus, and five others were suspected of having it.

Ruppert says she has intel that more festivities may be planned for July Fourth.

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Other reports by Click Lancashire

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