Pictured Above: The line to vote on Oct. 25 at the early polling site at the Stony Brook Southampton college gym. | George Cork Maul photo

Ten cases of Covid-19 have been tied to the Stony Brook Southampton College early voting site, said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Wednesday.

Six of the people who tested positive were poll workers, said Mr. Bellone, and 48 of the contacts of people who tested positive have been quarantined.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services urged people who cast ballots between Oct. 26 and Oct. 28 to be aware of their potential exposure.

“The Suffolk County Department of Health Services learned on November 3 that a person who worked at the Stony Brook Southampton early-voting site tested positive for COVID-19. Subsequently, five additional poll workers at this location and four personal contacts of those workers have tested positive for the coronavirus,” according to Health Department spokeswoman Grace Kelly-McGovern.

“While the department does not believe there to be any additional community spread from this case, we advise individuals who voted early at this location from October 26-28 to monitor their overall health for COVID symptoms and contact their health care practitioner if they become symptomatic,” she added.

Mr. Bellone also reported that three students who attended a gathering of 32 students from the Shoreham-Wading River School District have tested positive for the virus.

A total of 161 people were quarantined as a result of that gathering, which did not break state Covid gathering rules, including 11 school staff members, forcing the district to move into all-virtual learning until next week.

Mr. Bellone also cautioned that Covid-19 infections in the county have been on the rise as the weather has gotten cooler and people have been spending more time indoors.

“We have seen a steady uptick in our numbers. We have not been below 1 percent since Oct. 21. Over the last week, we averaged 1.5 percent,” said Mr. Bellone of the percentage of people tested who were positive for the virus.

Mr. Bellone said the county had been averaging hospitalizations with the virus in the 20s over the past several months, but “hospitalizations are back up into the 40s at a regular level now, with the virus surging literally around the world.”

“These numbers are concerning. We cannot afford to slide back,” he said. “Even with the guidelines in place, you can end up in situations like this.”

Mr. Bellone also touted the apparent success of a ballot proposition he has been pushing since the summer to to use funds from the Suffolk County Sewer Stabilization Fund to plug gaps in the county budget’s $320 million budget shortfall, much of which is due to a decrease in tax revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Election Night tallies showed the proposition, Proposal Two on the Suffolk ballot, with a slight lead of 53.79 percent, with 269,475 voters agreeing to use the fund. “No” votes came from 46.21 percent, or 231,388 voters — a spread of 38,087 votes. The county has received more than 120,000 absentee ballots to date, and won’t begin counting those ballots until next week. The final deadline for the county to receive ballots postmarked by Election Date is next Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Mr. Bellone applauded voters who said yes to what he called “a common sense measure to protect taxpayers, first responders and all our essential workers during this pandemic,” and had sharp barbs for Pine Barrens Society Executive Director Richard Amper, who had led the opposition to the measure.

“For a long time, he has engaged in destructive fights that have nothing to do with water quality,” said Mr. Bellone.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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