Much of the Riverhead zip code, including Riverside, and parts of Northampton and Flanders, along with much of Hampton Bays and part of Shinnecock Hills were named New York State yellow Covid cluster zones on Monday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the areas would become cluster zones in a midday media briefing. In a yellow cluster zone, the least restrictive of the state’s three cluster designations, businesses can remain open, gatherings are limited to 25 people, indoor and outdoor dining are permitted (with a maximum of four people per table), and schools can remain open with mandatory weekly testing of students and teachers for in-person education. Houses of worship are limited to 50 percent capacity.
The state reported a 5.13 percent positivity rate in Hampton Bays and a 4.6 percent positivity rate in Riverhead. The positivity rate in Suffolk County as a whole has averaged about 3.5 percent in the past week.
Both the Riverhead and Hampton Bays school districts began testing students and staff last week in a free joint program with the Suffolk County Health Department, using rapid testing kits provided by the state.
“We need a reality check because these are dangerous times that we’re in. The Covid rate, number of deaths, number of hospitalizations, everything we watch all day on TV, is all a function of our actions,” said Mr. Cuomo on Monday. “We are in a place now where there is a bad synergy — a sense of Covid fatigue. Yes, we’re only at 3 percent and only Vermont, Maine, and Hawaii are lower than us, but that can change in an instant and we must remember how we got here.”
Community-based outdoor testing has also begun in both communities.
A testing program sponsored by Stony Brook Southampton Hospital at Red Creek Park at 100 Old Riverhead Road in Hampton Bays began Friday, Nov. 20 and will be held every Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Testing is available for children over 4 years old and adults. Appointments are required, by calling 631.728.0505. A Prescription and insurance will be requested at time of scheduling an appointment.
Beginning Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, a no-cost, outdoor testing facility for the reopened at the Riverhead County Center (Sun River Health), 300 County Center Drive, Riverhead. It will be operational Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call 845.553.8030. Visit www.sunriver.org/testing for more information.
“I am urging all Riverhead residents to remain vigilant especially with the holiday season upon us. Now more than ever we need to strictly adhere to the three Covid-19 W’s: WEAR your mask, WATCH your distance, remain 6 feet apart whenever possible,WASH your hands frequently,” said Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar.
“In an effort to reduce the uptick in positive Covid-19 cases in our area, we have increased outreach to our residents,” she added. “A robo call was sent out to Riverhead residences in both English and in Spanish. We have been flooding the media, print radio and television, with reminders to be tested. Testing is a crucial element of battling the spread of the virus. I encourage every resident of Riverhead to be tested.”
This news comes not only as families gather for Thanksgiving, but also as Riverhead’s busy big box shopping strip on Route 58 prepares for Black Friday, usually the busiest shopping day of the year.
Stores are allowed to remain open in a yellow zone — though the western end of Route 58, west of Mill Road and including the Tanger Outlets, are outside the boundary of the yellow zone on the state’s map.
New York State’s Covid cluster guidelines include three different zones, increasing in severity of restrictions from yellow to orange to red, based on the Covid positivity rate in each community.
New York classifies an “orange zone” as a geographic area that has a seven day rolling average positivity rate above 3 percent for 10 days, and a seven day average of 10 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.
If the virus worsens and the area becomes an “orange zone,” schools would be closed, with only remote education; high-risk businesses like gyms and personal care services would close; restaurants would only be allowed to have outdoor dining (maximum of four people per table), mass gatherings would be limited to 10 people and houses of worship would be limited to 33 percent capacity.
New York classifies a “red zone” as a geographic area that has a seven day rolling average positivity rate above 4 percent for 10 days, and a seven day average of 10 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.
If the area enters the red zone, schools would remain closed, only essential businesses would open, restaurants would only be able to serve takeout, mass gatherings would be prohibited and houses of worship would be limited to gatherings of 10 people or 25 percent capacity, whichever is lower.
“It’s the infection rate in your community that matters, and that’s why we talk about micro-clusters. Influence your family’s behavior and your community’s behavior and be a Covid change agent in your community,” said Mr. Cuomo at Monday’s press briefing. “We’re social beings and it’s also the high season of social activity. That is a bad combination, and it is always the combination of events that creates the major issues. This year, let’s think of Thanksgiving as a time to yes, really give thanks to the people who really did phenomenal things this year, and continue to thank them by doing our part and wearing masks, staying socially distant, and practicing safe behaviors.”
Ms. Aguiar, the Riverhead Town Supervisor, reminded residents that there are several Covid-19 testing sites in Riverhead, as listed below.
Covid-19 Testing Sites in Riverhead include:
CityMD Urgent Care 999 Old Country Road Riverhead NY 11901 (631) 284-5900
ProHEALTH Urgent Care 1149 Old Country Road Riverhead NY 11901 (631) 740-9625
Suffolk County Riverhead Center 300 Center Drive
Riverhead NY 11901
6221 Route 25A
Wading River NY 11792 (631) 929-6040
GoHealth Urgent Care Center
1842 Old Country Rd, Riverhead NY 11901 (631) 830-4175
Here’s Suffolk County’s list of Covid-19 testing sites throughout the county.