LONG BEACH ISLAND — WHYY reported on Friday that approximately two dozen lifeguards on Long Beach Island have recently tested positive for COVID-19. They received their information from Long Beach Island Health Department officials.  

Daniel J. Krupinski, from the department reported that 11 Harvey Cedars and 12 Surf City lifeguards tested positive.

“The health department started receiving reports of COVID-19 activity among Surf City lifeguards on Saturday, July 18 and Harvey Cedars lifeguards on Sunday, July 19,” Krupinski said. “We have reason to believe the case activity stems from common social gatherings outside of work on July 12 and 14.”

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The location of the gatherings were not provided by officials.  Contact tracing is underway, and the beach patrol supervisors are cooperating, according to Krupinski, who said that all positive cases are isolating.

It is difficult for young people to follow social distancing and mask recommendations. Covid-19 is new territory for our nation and is extremely challenging. Many high school and college students are out late into the early morning on LBI attempting to enjoy their summer vacation. That behavior seems to be contributing to some spread of the disease.

Area restaurants and especially bars are providing increased security and staff to remind patrons to maintain social distance and wear masks. The two major late night watering holes on Long Beach Island are the Sea Shell Resort and Bird and Betty's in Beach Haven. These bar-restaurants are continually on top of their games. The staff and owners prioritize safety.

In fact, all of Stafford-LBI businesses need to be applauded for their heroic efforts in maintaining safety and helping keep our economy going. Area residents and guests appear to be enjoying summer 2020 with its difficult challenges.  

“We follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and New Jersey Department of Health criteria for discharging cases form either isolation or quarantine. It can be symptom based or testing based,” Krupinski said. “Our main concern for transmission are those identified as close contacts: those that live, worked and socialized with a positive individual in their period of communicability.”

Governor Murphy commented in his daily press conference on Friday that the lifeguards can relax. 

"To be perfectly clear, this is not a witch hunt to root out anyone who was drinking underage, although we do not condone underage drinking," he said. "This is a race against the clock to ensure that anyone who may have been exposed to coronavirus is identified before they infect anyone else."

New Jersey currently has a .94 transmission rate, this means that each person with coronavirus transmits the disease to slightly less than one person with each infection.  The continued goal of the Murphy administration is to keep that number below 1.0. 

The Ocean County Health Department is continuing to investigate this outbreak. Here is the original link to the WHYY article.