Coronavirus infections among eight people are tied to a large party where the host had COVID-19 symptoms in Rockland County outside of New York City, health officials said.
But some of the partygoers are refusing to comply with contract tracers — and they will get subpoenas with possible fines of $2,000 a day, officials said.
Rockland County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said at a Wednesday press conference that health workers have been trying to talk to people who tested positive after attending the party in an effort to contain what officials are calling a new coronavirus cluster.
“Many do not answer their cellphones and do not call back,” Ruppert said, adding that some deny being at the party. “My staff has been told that a person does not wish to, or have to, speak to my disease investigators.”
She said county officials would subpoena those who don't cooperate with contact tracers and would start to fine them $2,000 for every day of noncompliance.
The party was hosted last month in New City, according to NBC New York, and officials in the county believe some of those who attended went on to attend other sizable parties in the area.
“Large gatherings remain an issue,” Ruppert said. “The risk of transmission of the virus is high and very real.”
Rockland County Executive Ed Day said people refusing to help contact tracers were demonstrating “ignorance, stupidity or obstinance.”
“I am not going to stand idly by as you risk the health of this county,” Day said.
Rockland County has had more than 13,600 cases of coronavirus, with 668 deaths, according to a county website.
Officials said a current decline in new coronavirus virus numbers in the county has been encouraging, but to continue the positive trend they need residents to help them contain outbreaks.
“If the health department calls, answer the phone,” Ruppert said.
The county's health officials used a similar tactic of warning they would fine noncompliant residents during a measles outbreak in 2019, which was effective, Ruppert said.