Suffolk officials urging small New Year's Eve celebrations amid COVID

SUFFOLK COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- Suffolk County officials on Thursday urged residents to keep their New Year's Eve celebrations small due to rising coronavirus numbers.

"I'm urging Suffolk County residents tonight to keep those gatherings to a minimum," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

On Wednesday, Suffolk County reported it's highest one day increase in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, which brought the county-wide infection rate to 12.8 percent. The number dropped on Thursday to 10.5 percent.

Bellone said on November 1, Suffolk County had 42 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and 35 deaths in the month of November.

He said as of December 1,287 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus and 218 people died in December.

"We will end this month with more than 700 people in our hospitals," Bellone said.

Bellone said if residents decide to gather at people's homes to celebrate New Year's Eve, they should social distance and wear masks.

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Suffolk County Police are worried about more drunk drivers on the roads this New Year's Eve due to the 10 p.m. closure of bars and restaurants.

Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron said most years people plan to have transportation for New Year's Eve because they are going to organized events or get-togethers.

"My concern is because the events tonight are going to be a little more ad hoc, less planned, that people may be more likely to drive their own personal vehicles to these celebratory events," Cameron said.

Cameron warned that Suffolk County police officers will be on the roads looking for DWI drivers.

"The message from the police department is don't make a poor decision that could have tragic consequences upon you or others. No one wants to hurt anybody," he said.


Meanwhile, hospitality workers are planning to hold a New Year's Eve rally at the Ronkonkoma train station. They will protesting Governor Andrew Cuomo's 10 p.m. closure rule for bars and restaurants.

"Now he's allowing everyone to go and spectate a football game, but we can't support our families. It's absolutely ridiculous," said the event organizer Jennifer Harrison, of Mastic. "We're going to ring in the New Year by saying that we will not bow to tyranny."

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