According to the Bucks County Health Department, the infections occurred over Memorial Day Weekend at gatherings in Cape May County

By Eric Todisco
June 09, 2020 05:16 PM
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A recent cluster of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Pennsylvania has been traced back to "beach house gatherings" at the Jersey Shore.

Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department, said in a press release on Saturday that of the county's 33 new coronavirus cases, 12 of them had been in recent contact with a New Jersey resident who attended multiple house gathering at the Shore.

The department told CNN that the infections occurred over Memorial Day weekend at a party in Cape May County.

“This is exactly why we can’t let our guard down now, even if it feels 'safe’ to be at the beach,” he said. “One unlucky exposure can lead to a large cascade of cases down the line. We want everyone to enjoy the warmer weather and have fun, but let’s keep in mind that COVID is still circulating in the community at baseline levels."

Additional infections among family members of the new cases are also likely, Damsker said.

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Four of the 33 new cases were reported belatedly to the health department, according to Damsker, so those individuals are no longer considered to be infectious.

He told CNN that the 12 individuals infected by contact with the New Jersey resident are all self-isolating at home and experiencing "mild symptoms."

The New Jersey Department of Health is also investigating the exposures, according to the Bucks County Health Department.

As of Saturday, Bucks County has 97 hospitalized coronavirus patients, 17 of whom are in critical condition and on ventilators. Of 4,972 residents who have tested positive during the pandemic, 1,941 are confirmed to have recovered.

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New Jersey, meanwhile, has slowly been seeing a drop in COVID-19 cases, despite being one of the hardest-hit states. On June 15, the state will enter phase 2 of its reopening plan, with outdoor dining opening at restaurants and nonessential retail allowing customers into the stores at half capacity.

As of Tuesday, June 9, New Jersey has had at least 164,000 cases of coronavirus, and at least 12,000 people have died, according to New York Times data.

Other areas of the country have also seen concerning upticks in cases. After Memorial Day weekend California's wine country region saw a surge. Napa County had a record 31 new cases of the virus last week, which is more than twice the previously-reported weekly high. On Monday, 12 new cases were reported.

The county’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Karen Relucio, noted that “people are forgetting” about coronavirus risks as summer approaches and businesses slowly begin reopening.

“We don’t have community immunity to COVID-19. We don’t have a vaccine. It’s highly contagious,” she added. “Enjoy your summer, but keep your distance and wear a face covering. The physical distancing is so important to keep following.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.