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Cluster of COVID-19 cases linked to early voting site, county executive says

Suffolk County health officials are monitoring a new cluster of COVID-19 cases that may have stemmed from an early voting site in Southampton Town.

At least 10 confirmed coronavirus cases have been linked to the Stony Brook University campus in Southampton, a location used during the nine day early-voting period in New York.

Of those cases, officials said six were working at the polling site. All 10 individuals are isolating, along with 48 of their contacts also under quarantine, County Executive Steve Bellone said during a media briefing Wednesday, where he reminded the public to remain vigilant against the coronavirus.

The county executive also said he’s monitoring a cluster of cases associated with a 32-person gathering in the Shoreham-Wading River School District.

Three positive cases associated with that gathering have been reported so far and the district announced the high school will remain closed to in-person learning through Nov. 11. Mr. Bellone said the decision was based on the “large number of instructional staff” who were required to quarantine as a result of the positive cases.

A total of 161 people, including 140 high school students, are quarantined as a result.

The school is expected to reopen to full-time in-person learning on Nov. 12 and the closure does not impact the district’s other buildings.

Though the gathering of 32 people does not violate current restrictions, Mr. Bellone urged caution.

“Even in an instance where you’re complying with the gathering guidelines, if the proper precautions are —and to a certain extent, even if precautions are taken —you can end up in a situation like this,” he said.

On Tuesday, the county health department reported that 176 residents tested positive for COVID-19 out of 9,927 tests, bringing the infection rate to 1.8%.

“Although for months we were below 1%, we have not been below 1% since Oct. 21,” Mr. Bellone said, addressing the steady uptick in cases.

The hospitalization rate, which Mr. Bellone said had been in the 20s, has now doubled into the 40s again.

Five additional hospitalizations were reported on Tuesday, bringing the total number of patients to 42, and an additional four in the ICU. No deaths were reported and five more patients were discharged, officials said.

“We remain focused on keeping people healthy, keeping these numbers down and enabling our economic recovery to continue,” Mr. Bellone said. “We cannot afford to slide back.”