Stock photo

Riverhead Town Police last night announced an enforcement action against the host of a large party on Middle Road on Friday, Oct. 9.

Police said in the press release they broke up a party of about 300 people that took place at 455 Middle Road in Riverhead and issued a field appearance ticket to the host of the party, Julian B. Harris, 29, for violating New York State Public Health Law. Police said Harris is a resident at that address.

Police responded to a complaint about a large party at that address at approximately 9:35 p.m. on Oct. 9, according to the press release. Responding officers found about 300 people in attendance at that address, with a DJ as entertainment, and vehicles blocking the roadway.

Harris is charged with violating Public Health Law 12-B for holding a non-essential gathering of more than 50 people, prohibited by the governor’s Executive Order 202.14, as amended, and COVID-19 emergency regulations adopted by the New York State Department of Health. Police also said individuals at the party violated the emergency regulation requiring face-coverings to be worn in a public place when not social-distancing.

The violation of Public Health Law Section 12-B, “Willful Violation of Health Law” is punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, or by a fine of up to $10,000 dollars or both.

Large parties and other large social gatherings where people are not wearing face-coverings or maintaining social distance of at least six feet have been called “super-spreader” events responsible for spreading the very contagious novel coronavirus and causing clusters of new outbreaks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly called on local law enforcement agencies to take action against non-essential gatherings that violate executive orders and emergency COVID-19 regulations, as well as to enforce other types of violations of the orders and regulations.

It is not known if the Oct. 9 party in Riverhead is linked to any COVID-19 infections.

Photo: Adobe Stock

As of Oct. 23, there were 850 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Riverhead Town since the beginning of the outbreak in March, according to data from the county health department. There have been 48,630 confirmed cases in Suffolk County, where the test result positivity rate remains at 1%.

According to health officials the actual infection rate has always been much higher than the test result positivity rate, because most people who contract the disease remain asymptomatic or experience only mild symptoms and are not being tested. Health officials say about 20% of those infected experience symptoms requiring hospitalization.

Because of the potential for community spread by asymptomatic individuals, the state, since the beginning of the crisis, has been pushing to increase the number of tests administered to residents. It has a goal of conducting at least 30 diagnostic tests per 1,000 people. There have been more than 100,000 diagnostic tests administered daily in New York since approximately Oct. 1.

The statewide test result positivity rate has hovered just over 1% during that time, while the positivity rates in several “hot spots” in New York City and the lower Hudson Valley, where there have been clusters of outbreaks, have climbed much higher — in some cases above 10%.

There have been 2,069 COVID-19 fatalities in Suffolk as of Oct. 22, according to the state health department.

The virus is surging across the country and making a resurgence in some states where infections had fallen off. Yesterday there were a record number of new positive cases identified in the U.S., approximately 80,000. The test result positivity rate nationwide is currently 5.8% on a seven-day rolling average. COVID hospitalizations have increased 40% over the past two weeks.

There have been just under 8.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and 223,998 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.

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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.