NY couple’s Covid-19 superspreader wedding with over double the guests allowed causes 34 cases, school closures

Cydnie Piscatello and James Rugnetta married at North Fork Country Club and invited 113 guests for their wedding, more than double the 50-person limit allocated by the state for non-essential gatherings


                            NY couple’s Covid-19 superspreader wedding with over double the guests allowed causes 34 cases, school closures
(Getty Images)

The couple from Long Island, New York, whose upscale wedding at a country club flouted the state's gathering restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic and became a superspreader event, have been identified. The pair's wedding resulted in over 30 Covid-19 cases and triggered school closures in the region. Cydnie Piscatello and James Rugnetta married at North Fork Country Club in Cutchogue, Suffolk County, on October 17, according to the Daily Mail. The couple invited 113 guests for their wedding, more than double the 50-person limit allocated by the state for non-essential gatherings in the region.

The gathering eventually turned out to be a superspreader event and since then at least 34 people linked to the wedding have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Suffolk County Health officials said. Out of 34, 30 were wedding guests, three were employees of the country club and one outside vendor. Reports state that the outbreak linked to the wedding also resulted in the potential exposure of wider community members and at least 159 people were asked to quarantine for at least two weeks. The spread also forced several schools to suspend in-person learning. 

New York State health officials, in a statement on Monday, November 9, announced that the wedding venue's liquor license was suspended after the club violated the pandemic-related restriction. The club is reportedly also facing fines up to $15,000 for violations of Section 12-B(2) of the Public Health Law, violations of New York Executive Orders, and $2,000 for violations of Suffolk County Sanitary Code. Shortly after the superspreader gathering, North Fork Country Club, was also forced to shut down operations on October 23 for two weeks. It is not yet clear whether the family would also face penalties in the case.

The club, in a statement to Patch at the time, said: "We reached out to the Department of Health and we are working with them to provide all information needed. In respect of our employees and in compliance with HIPAA we are not able to disclose the health status of our employees."

A local restaurant, Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck, was also forced to close temporarily as two of their employees who attended the wedding were required to undergo testing. The bride and the groom had reportedly been employed at the restaurant where the groom was working as a cook, according to social media. However, a representative from the eatery told the outlet that neither Rugnetta nor Piscatello have worked at the restaurant since 2018. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo, on Monday, also denounced the violation of restrictions in the state that was the hardest hit in the current pandemic earlier this year, and called the gathering "obnoxious and irresponsible - not to mention illegal."

He said: "We are eight months into this pandemic and simply will not tolerate businesses that put New Yorkers at risk. Those who continue to ignore the rules will lose their ability to serve alcohol, and I thank Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and his team for their cooperation in holding these bad actors accountable."

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