Governor Andrew Cuomo warned Sunday that portions of Suffolk County are trending toward a yellow-zone micro-cluster status as soon as this week, which means more restrictions would be put in place if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow.
The governor did not specify which areas are in the greatest danger of earning the designation, but Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone noted earlier this week that Riverhead has seen a recent spike in cases. Neither the state or county has made a full range of COVID-19 testing data available by township or hamlet.
Under a yellow-zone status, which goes into effect when an isolated community experiences a seven-day positivity rate above 3% for 10 consecutive days, houses of worship are limited to 50% capacity, mass gatherings are limited to 25 people and mandatory school testing will be conducted on 20% of the school population. Riverhead is currently testing students under a pilot program with Suffolk County.
According to data released by the Suffolk County Department of Health Saturday night, the county as a whole had experienced a 7-day average positivity rate above 3% for the past eight days. However, the seven-day average was just 3.1% on Saturday and the daily rate was below 3%.
At Sunday’s press conference, the governor said ultimately the zone designation is based on specific communities and not a larger region, making the countywide numbers somewhat irrelevant when monitoring for a micro-cluster. The governor shared positivity rates for only a handful of communities across the state as an example of how wide ranging the data is — no North Fork communities were included in that data.
The governor used most of his press conference Sunday to paint a picture of how dire human behavior during the holiday season could be.
Mr. Cuomo said typical social behavior in the 37 days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is a significant factor in projected increases.
“I believe the COVID rate will increase,” Mr. Cuomo said in a press conference Sunday. “The only question is how much and how fast.”
The governor said he expects to see two periods of increase in the positivity rate, starting with Thanksgiving and a Black Friday-related spread showing up in testing data between Dec. 1 and Dec. 10, and a second spike a month later.
Testing site reopening Monday
The Sun River Health outdoor testing site at the County Center in Riverside reopens at 9 a.m. Monday, the Town of Riverhead has announced.
It will be open by appointment only from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
To schedile an appointment call 845-553-8030 or visit www.sunriver.org/testing.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said she anticipates another outdoor testing site to open in town soon.
Tests are also being provided at many doctor’s offices and walk-in health facilities, though long lines have been reported in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. Very long lines were seen at a walk-in clinic in Cutchogue throughout the day Sunday.