County Executive urges residents to limit Super Bowl gatherings

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the numbers on COVID-19 — both positivity rate and hospitalizations —  continue on a downward trajectory following the holiday spike and he cautioned people to limit the size of gatherings Sunday to watch the Super Bowl.

“While the Super Bowl of course is not an official holiday, it is certainly one of the biggest gathering days of the year for the country,” Mr. Bellone said. “We know that this virus has spread because of small gatherings so I’m urging people this weekend as you watch the Super Bowl to limit those gatherings as much as possible.”

He said people should take precautions if gathering with people outside their household by social distancing and wearing face masks.

“This is how the virus spreads and we don’t want the virus we have made to be reversed because of Super Bowl weekend,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published guidelines recently for people who may be attending Super Bowl gatherings, while noting those gatherings “increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.”

Mr. Bellone on Thursday did not provide any specific updates on the governor’s earlier announcement that local governments can decide whether to add restaurant workers, taxi or rideshare drivers and workers at developmentally disabled facilities as eligible for the vaccine under the current Phase 1b.

He did, however, say second doses of vaccines began at the county-run pods, including at the Suffolk County Community College campus in Riverside. He said by the end of the week, 2,500 second doses will have been administered. To date there have been approximately 10,000 doses administered. Another pod is running at the SCCC Brentwood campus.

He said vaccination supply, while increasing, is still “nowhere near what we need to be.”

“We know that this has been a frustrating rollout,” he said. “But the supply is starting to inch up.”

He also commented on catering halls, which are allowed to reopen March 15.

“While we are waiting for the state to release additional guidance, we are working with all of our industry partners, including Discover Long Island, to put forth a comprehensive plan to ensure a safe and effective re-opening of catering halls in Suffolk County,” he said.

Mr. Bellone said the county’s positivity rate has been in the 5-6% range after it had been up around 13%.

He said there was a high of 863 hospitalizations and that number is now 653 as of the most recent reporting.

“The trajectory is great but we have to maintain our vigilance and continue to drive these numbers down as a low as possible,” he said.

The data published Thursday evening by the Department of Health showed 651 new COVID-19 cases reported, the fourth straight day under 1,000. The positivity rate was at 5.1% and 5.8% on a 7-day average. One month earlier, on Jan. 4, the 7-day average was 10.4%.

There were 10 fatalities linked to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours in Suffolk.

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