29 New Jersey Lifeguards Test Positive For COVID-19 After Attending House Party

Associated Press
July 27, 2020 - 8:05 am

    HARVEY CEDARS, N.J. (AP) — More than two dozen lifeguards from two New Jersey beach towns have tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a house party last month, authorities said.

    The lifeguards are from Harvey Cedars and Surf City, neighboring boroughs on Long Beach Island.

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    Harvey Cedars said Saturday that 17 lifeguards, all of whom had "attended a party in Surf City,'' had tested positive for COVID-19. The island's health director earlier said a dozen Surf City lifeguards had also tested positive for the virus.

    Some of those who tested positive in Harvey Cedars are asymptomatic.

    Mayor Jonathan Oldham of Harvey Cedars said island health officials alerted the borough to the cluster Thursday and the lifeguards were being quarantined until they are cleared by doctors.

    "They were taken off duty as lifeguards and isolated. Close contacts and attendees of this gathering have been quarantined. Individuals will not be eligible to return to work, at the earliest and at management discretion, until they meet discharge criteria established by the LBI Health Department," according to a statement on the borough's website.

    Harvey Cedars said their Beach Patrol has approximately 73 lifeguards and beaches will remain fully staffed. All lifeguards practice social distancing protocols while on duty.

    Oldham told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond that the lifeguards and their families are cooperating with contact tracing efforts to determine if more people were infected.

    But that was not the case with a separate COVID cluster among young people who attended a party in Monmouth County. Gov. Phil Murphy during an appearance Monday on CNN blamed the initial lack of cooperation on underage drinking.

    "There may have been things like underage drinking going on and neither parents nor kids were wild about talking to somebody in fear that it would be a witch hunt," Murphy said. "The point that we've made is we don't condone underage drinking or any illegal behavior, but this is not a witch hunt, this is about public health and preventing a lethal virus from spreading even further."

    Responding to this new cluster, Murphy said, "To the best of my knowledge the kids are doing the right thing in terms of self quarantining. I have not heard of any hospitalizations and I hope it stays that way."

    New Jersey reported more than 500 new coronavirus cases and another 11 deaths on Sunday.

    This weekend was the first time this month that more than 500 cases were reported.

    Sunday marked the 18th day in a row that fewer than 50 deaths were reported in the state.

    WCBS 880 contributed to this report.

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