New York no longer hides its concern. For several days, the warning signals have been multiplying in the big apple: the latest, a birthday party that infected 37 people in a chic suburb of Long Island. It was September 25: a big party for a 16th birthday – nicknamed in the United States “Sweet 16” – was organized at the “Miller Place Inn”, a place specializing in prestigious parties and weddings, on the beaches of the North. east of Long Island.
Suffolk County officials sounded the alarm on Wednesday: of the 81 guests for the evening – in violation of New York state’s 50-person limit – 29 tested positive for coronavirus and eight others – relatives of the participants – were infected, they said in a statement. Some 334 contacts have been identified, 270 people quarantined, and eight schools have reported positive cases related to the event. And the establishment, temporarily closed, was sanctioned with a fine of 12,000 dollars.
“We had never had a super-propagator like this in Suffolk County,” County Chief Steve Bellone tweeted Thursday. “People have to act responsibly, otherwise the economy will suffer again.” In recent weeks, the State of New York, which had succeeded in keeping the epidemic under control after recording a record of more than 33,000 deaths, mainly in the spring, has seen epidemic outbreaks multiply.
They are particularly numerous in areas where the Jewish Orthodox population is important, such as Brooklyn or the counties of Rockland and Orange, in the great suburbs of New York. The governor, Andrew Cuomo, imposed in these districts the closures of non-essential businesses, and limited to 10 the capacity of places of worship, in particular synagogues, very frequented during this period of Jewish holidays.
Although he defends himself against any discrimination and consults with leaders of the Orthodox community, these measures angered part of the community, sparking protests and legal actions by Orthodox congregations against the authorities. Citing the example of Europe where containment measures are increasing in the face of a comeback of the epidemic, the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, defended these temporary restrictions on Thursday.
“I believe the courts will understand that our health officials speak of a clear and immediate danger,” he said Thursday. “If we tackle it firmly, it will only be for a few weeks and we can come back to fewer restrictions.”