Health officials believe the lifeguards contracted COVID-19 the virus at social gatherings outside of work

By Claudia Harmata
July 27, 2020 12:27 PM
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At least 29 lifeguards from two New Jersey beaches have tested positive for the coronavirus after attending social gatherings together outside of work, health officials say.

On Friday, Daniel J. Krupinski, the Long Beach Island Health Department director said the lifeguards are from Harvey Cedars and Surf City, neighboring boroughs on Long Beach Island, according to the radio station WHYY.

“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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At least 12 lifeguards from Surf City tested positive and 17 lifeguards from Harvey Cedars tested positive, according to WHYY and the Associated Press.

Mayor Jonathan Oldham of Harvey Cedars told the AP that the boroughs were alerted to the cluster on Thursday, adding that area lifeguards were being quarantined until cleared by doctors.

"Please be aware that when Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol Lifeguards have been on duty, since the beginning of the season, they have been instructed to follow a strict protocol of social distancing, and were each staffed with a Personal Protection Fanny Pack, including ample disinfectant wipes and face coverings," Harvey Cedars shared on its website. "Lifeguards sat in separate chairs, six feet or more apart, with their own equipment,  and with a perimeter of at least 6 feet between the Lifeguard chairs and beachgoers."

The website also noted the town has approximately 73 lifeguards on staff. "So our beaches will remain fully staffed with all safety protocols in place."

In the last two weeks, New Jersey has seen a 27 percent increase in the daily average number of new confirmed cases, according to a New York Times database. As of Monday morning, there have been at least 181,283 cases and 15,787 deaths from the virus in the state.

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