July 27, 2020
At least 35 beach patrol members on Long Beach Island have contracted COVID-19, prompting numerous other lifeguards to self-isolate.
Several Jersey Shore towns have had lifeguards test positive for the coronavirus, but the outbreak at Harvey Cedars and Surf City is among the largest this summer.
Roughly half of those who tested positive are asymptomatic while the other half are experiencing mild symptoms, the Long Beach Island Health Department said. No one has been hospitalized.
Al lifeguards who have contracted the virus have been taken off duty and are self-quarantining. They will not be allowed to return to work until they meet certain criteria outlined by health officials. Those who came into contact with infected lifeguards have been instructed to self-isolate and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
The LBI Health Department began receiving reports of COVID-19 infections among lifeguards in both boroughs last weekend – after numerous beach patrol members attended two social gatherings.
Health officials do not believe the lifeguards contracted the virus while working.
Those who attended the gatherings but who were not experiencing symptoms have been advised to self-quarantine. Those who were symptomatic were asked to get tested for the virus and self-isolate.
Despite the outbreak, beaches at both Harvey Cedars and Surf City have remained fully staffed with numerous health and safety protocols in place.
Lifeguards on Long Beach Island have been required to practice social distancing throughout the summer. Only one beach patrol member is allowed on the stand and he or she must report directly to the stand.
There also are no communal work activities and lifeguards are equipped with face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer.
New Jersey is permitting outdoor gatherings of 500 people or less. Indoor gatherings remain capped at either 25% capacity or 100 people — whichever number is lower.
Avalon, Ocean City, Ventnor and Wildwood also have had lifeguards test positive for COVID-19, causing several others to self-quarantine, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Several of those cases also have been tied to social gatherings.