Positive cases in Sussex County have been rising to what was originally thought to a be a slow increase following senior week activities, but officials are now saying the new cluster of new cases are alarming.
Rehoboth Beach (DE): It’s no surprise that covid-19 in Sussex County is increasing. For the past several weeks, the new positive case counts have been increasing at a slow rate. That was until senior week activities happened at the beach. Now officials say the cluster of new cases are alarming.
“We are extremely concerned by yet another cluster of COVID-19 cases in the beach area and the potential for spread to others both at work and in social gatherings,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We know that some of the positive persons have been at parties recently, potentially transmitting the virus to others who may still be here or may have returned to their homes in other counties or states.”
On Monday, three Rehoboth Beach lifeguards tested positive for COVID-19.
“We believe at this time there was very little contact with the public,” said Rehoboth Police Chief Keith Banks, adding that the lifeguards spend most of their time in the lifeguard stands. “We immediately executed our COVID response protocol and contacted the local health department. All lifeguards were notified of the exposure and will be tested within the next 24 hours,” said Banks.
Banks said the lifeguards who have tested positive are asymptomatic and are staying home until medically cleared to return to work. Even though three lifeguards are out, Banks said that staffing levels are high enough that it will not negatively impact the lifeguard operations on the beach.
The news of the results came as Rehoboth Beach is seeing higher additional cases of COVID-19 being identified.
Since Memorial Day, tourists have been flooding the beach and so have the positive cases. Monday saw 150 new cases and 135 was reported on Sunday. It’s the highest case report since late May and Sunday’s new cases come following several testing events at Delaware beach towns.
Officials began urging people in Delaware beach towns to get tested following a testing event Thursday that state officials identified approximately 100 new positive cases.
“For the second time in just over a week, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is asking people in the Delaware beach area, particularly in Rehoboth and Dewey Beach, to get tested for COVID-19.,” said an earlier news release.
Some restaurants and bars have chosen to close, limit hours, or limit services based on concerns over the spread of infection in the beach community, and DPH appreciates, supports and encourages any prevention measures businesses they may implement.
Governor Carney’s next covid-19 briefing is Today and it’s looking like Delaware may start rolling back according to Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of Delaware’s Division on Public Health.
Rattay, appeared on Good Day Philadelphia Tuesday morning to discuss an increase in cases at beach towns like Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach. She says the jump in cases originally started in groups like high school seniors who headed to the beaches for senior weeks. Since then, she says cases have begun impacting younger adults working in the beach area, as well as some of their older residents.
“There will be some changes. Maybe not so much to indoor dining, but it’s unlikely we’re going to progress, especially at the beach area right now. We are also looking very closely at bars because it’s become very difficult for those who operate bars, those who own bars, to really be able to manage the individuals who are coming into bars,” she added.
Rattay also said that she is concerned by her own staff observations in the beach area and pictures seen on social media of people not wearing face coverings or social distancing while they are out and about, including at bars and restaurants.
“Make no mistake, continuing this behavior is a recipe for disaster. It is a sure way for us to end up with widespread infection that ultimately may not be contained to the beach area.” Dr. Rattay indicated that the risk for widespread infection, hospitalization and even death is higher when people spend more time, close together (not social distancing), in an indoor setting such as a restaurant or bar, where they are not using face coverings.”, said Rattay.