Health Officials: Nearly 50% Of Residents Who Test Positive For COVID-19 Are Not Cooperating With Contact Tracers

BROOKHAVEN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Long Island is ramping up more COVID-19 testing sites as a crucial weapon to slow the surge.

This comes as police have revealed another potential super-spreader party involving hundreds of young people, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday.

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As many as 500 people were recently invited to a sprawling estate in Brookhaven. Police were called after midnight Monday as 911 calls from worried neighbors flooded in, including from the property owner, who had rented his castle-like home.

“We were able to break this party up while a lot of people were still in their cars, so we reduced their opportunity to expose themselves to each other, avoided a real potential super-spreader event,” Suffolk County Police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron said.

“We’re not going to allow people to skirt the COVID-19 public health rules by simply renting a home,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

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Police said the Airbnb renter is from New Jersey and that once the person is identified they would be criminally prosecuted for violating public health laws and faces civil fines up to $15,000.

This comes as Suffolk health officials reveal nearly 50% of those testing positive are refusing to cooperate with COVID-19 tracing teams, hanging up or not answering the phone.

“Overall, it’s very irresponsible to not be cooperating,” one person said.

“They’re afraid to lose their jobs,” another said.

“Especially with my personal information? Oh no, not in these days,” another said.

“I understand why, but it’s very selfish. You have to save lives,” another added.

“It’s not about blaming or shaming. It’s about keeping our numbers and our spread as low as we possibly can,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

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When asked if the contact tracers feel overwhelmed, Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Nassau County’s health commissioner, said, “We went from 30 or 40 cases a day and now we’re up to 400 or 500 cases a day, so the workload has certainly increased.”

Along with a trust crisis over misinformation and privacy fears, as the virus continues to spread.

Suffolk’s number of positive cases has surged above 5%, while Nassau’s is just above 4%. Both counties have micro-clusters with higher percentages.