Analysis: Town data shows some ways COVID-19 affected Riverhead Town

Deaths in Riverhead Town soared to the highest level in at least a decade with the arrival of COVID-19 last year, according to records maintained by the Town Clerk.

Last year saw the Riverhead Town Clerk’s office issue 30% more death certificates than in 2019, as 589 deaths were recorded. Between 2011 and 2019, Riverhead averaged 447 deaths per year, 24% fewer than the 2020 total.

Death certificates are one of several records maintained by the clerk’s office that show how the coronavirus affected daily life in Riverhead Town.

With the pandemic also came the suspension of events and a decline in the number of people getting married in Riverhead Town.

While some couples still celebrated their nuptials with small-scale gatherings held in parks and backyards, historical data from the town clerk’s office showed far fewer people obtained marriage licenses in 2020 than in the recent past.

The 206 marriage licenses issued in 2020 marks a 47% reduction from 2019. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 408 marriage licenses were issued annually in Riverhead Town.

Approved special events permits fell from 63 in 2019 to 18 last year with most events “cancelled and monies refunded or postponed to 2021,” according to Town Clerk Diane Wilhelm.

Yard sale permits fell to just 257 last year, down from an average of 414 per year over the prior decade.

The Riverhead data is in line with an annual report filed last week by the neighboring Southold Town Clerk’s office. Death certificates increased by 9% in Southold Town, while marriage licenses declined by 40%.