Southold Town Hall on March 21. Photo: Peter Blasl

Southold Town’s confirmed coronavirus cases were the highest among every town in Suffolk County on a case-per-thousand basis and more than double the rate in the county as a whole.

On March 28, Southold’s rate of confirmed coronavirus cases was 6.3 infections per thousand residents, compared to 2.8 per thousand in Suffolk as a whole on that date. 

The North Fork town’s rate of confirmed cases was also significantly higher than New York City’s, which was 3.5 per thousand residents.

The much more densely populated Town of Huntington has the second-highest case-per-thousand number in the county, at 3.8 cases per thousand. Riverhead Town had two cases per thousand as of Saturday’s data. 

LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus coverage, maps and case data.

The COVID data used for this comparison is from Saturday, March 28, because that is the most recent data available for individual towns in Suffolk.

Suffolk’s first confirmed coronavirus case was in Southold Town, a chef at a Greenport brewery. A contact of his contracted the disease. She worked as a per diem employee at the Greenport life care and retirement community Peconic Landing. Seven residents of Peconic Landing have since died of the disease. The company said last week 15 residents and 13 staff members have tested positive; six of them have recovered, according to a statement.

Southold’s year-round population is 22,284 according to the U.S. Census Bureau estimate for 2017 — the most recent Census estimate available. It has the smallest year-round population of any Suffolk town other than tiny Shelter Island, where the year-round population is just 2,421.

“I think there’s a certain paradox,,” Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said in an interview today. 

“As a small community we are more tightly knit,” he said. “We all shop at the same stores, all eat at the same restaurants that are open year-round, all go to the same fire department dinners. The reality is we all see each other on a regular basis. People are going to have contact with each other,” Russell said.

The county’s reporting of cases by township has lagged one day behind the reports published for the county as a whole — as well as a day behind the reports of cases for NYC. As of this morning, Saturday is the last day for which Suffolk’s town-by-town numbers are available, Updated numbers are published every afternoon, usually after 2:30 p.m.

County and state officials have repeatedly said that the number of confirmed cases is directly related to how much testing is being done — and that the virus is likely much more widespread in the community than the number of confirmed cases indicates.

COVID case data as of Saturday, March 28:

Southold – pop. 22,284
138 cases= 6.3 cases per thousand

Nassau County – pop. 1,400,000
5,537 cases = 4.0 per thousand

New York City – pop. 8,623,000
29,766 cases = 3.5 per thousand

Huntington – pop. 202,276
761 cases= 3.8 per thousand

Suffolk – pop. 1,500,000
4,138 cases= 2.8 per thousand

Babylon – pop. 212,355
537 cases= 2.5 per thousand

Islip – pop. 333,700
792 cases= 2.4 per thousand

Riverhead – pop. 33,781
68 cases= 2 per thousand

Smithtown – pop. 117,390
196 cases= 1.7 cases per thousand

Southampton – pop. 58,439
79 cases= 1.4 cases per thousand

Brookhaven – pop. 486,170
605 cases= 1.3 per thousand

East Hampton – pop. 32,000
22 cases = .69 per thousand

Shelter Island – pop. 2,421
1 case= .5 per thousand


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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.