Auction, packed with people, leads to COVID concerns in 2 counties

WWNY Auction, packed with people, leads to COVID concerns in 2 counties

TOWN OF NEW BREMEN, N.Y. (WWNY) - October 17 video from Johnson Auctions, a business in the Lewis County town of Denmark, shows a crowd estimated to be 200 to 300 people.

Some have masks on, but being socially distanced appears to be a challenge.

Because there is a risk of potential COVID exposure at this event, public health is asking if you to call them if you were there.

Meanwhile, the county has issued a cease and desist order to the owners and the owner tells 7 News he is cooperating with that order.

Johnson Auctions technically is in Lewis County, but it is a stone’s throw away from Jefferson County.

In fact, it was Jefferson County that got the initial complaints about that October 17 crowd.

“I received two complaints on the event and the number of people that were there. Specifically one complaint said there were probably about 300 people there. You have to kind of, honestly, scratch your head and say why? When we see events like this, it’s concerning,” said Scott Gray, chair, Jefferson County Board of Legislators.

Why did Jefferson County get complaints about an event in Lewis County? It’s because the auction house sits on the county line.

“Most people consider it just an extension of West Carthage,” said Gray.

And because it’s so close, Gray says the Carthage Central School District is now seeing the consequences of this large gathering.

“We have at least 10 school bus drivers that are quarantined under this so that makes a very difficult situation,” he said.

In a statement, Lewis County Attorney Joan McNichol reminds businesses not to hold large gatherings or the county could issue fines.

It won’t fine the auction business. The owner says he was surprised so many people showed up to the October 17 event.

“We have canceled all auctions until the COVID-19 crisis is resolved. We didn’t expect a crowd that size. We just did our best to follow the CDC guidelines and I hope the people who attended the auction are safe and well,” said David Johnson, owner of Johnson and Co. Auction House.

The state Health Department said Monday that it’s helping support Lewis County with contact tracing and quarantine activities.

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