Authorities say those young adults got together after work in Long Beach Island.
As CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reports, there’s little at Surf City to suggest anything went wrong. The beaches are packed, lifeguards are still on duty, kids are out in the water, and for the most part, everyone’s following the rules.
“If you look around, everybody here is trying to stay at least six feet apart, which is good and makes it worth coming to the beach,” said Tony Arianno of Madison, N.J.
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But dozens of lifeguards who would normally be at the beach got sick. The LBI Health Department says as of now 36 lifeguards have tested positive for coronavirus, including 18 from Surf City, and another 18 in Harvey Cedars. None were hospitalized.
As for what happened, the Health Department says “it was identified that COVID-19 positive cases shared attendance at a common social gathering on July 12th and 14th.”
It’s now offering a reminder, saying “The youth and young adults should recognize they are not immune to this virus.”
That’s a feeling shared on the beach, Rincon reported.
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“They think they’re infallible, the kids. We all did when we were young also. We didn’t think anything could hurt us. Then you get older and you realize it can,” one man said.
“My kids are old enough to be lifeguards and they’re very cautious with me as a family member. You have to worry about your family,” a woman named Pam said.
As cases start to climb there because of this cluster, it has left people like Kathy Travinsky of Beach Haven concerned.
“We had very few cases, and I think we have more now than we had all winter, which is scary,” she said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Murphy says if you’re going to get together in crowds, do it in a way where you won’t get sick.
“Gather outside. Gather responsibly. Put a face covering on. Stay away from each other. And if you do that, it’s OK to do that, but the opposite is not OK,” he said.
Eleven of the 18 lifeguards in Surf City have returned to work, and Surf City actually hired 20 part time lifeguards before the beaches reopened to help prepare for situations like this.