23 Long Beach Island lifeguards are COVID-19 positive after ‘social gatherings’

Lifeguard rescue torpedoes. (Public domain image)

Lifeguard rescue torpedoes. (Public domain image)

Nearly two dozen lifeguards in Long Beach Island have recently tested positive for COVID-19, a health official said Friday.

Daniel J. Krupinski, the Long Beach Island Health Department director, said 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.”

The health official did not provide the locations of the gatherings. Contact tracing is well underway, and the beach patrol supervisors are cooperating, according to Krupinski, who said that all positive cases are isolating.

“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,” he 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.”

Krupinski said the outbreak remains under investigation.

A posting on the Surf City website advises that while beaches will remain protected from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily, “adjustments may be made from day to day to ensure the safety of all patrons and guards.”

Last week, officials in Monmouth County’s Spring Lake learned that two borough lifeguards tested positive for COVID-19. In nearby Manasquan, the borough canceled its summer recreation program after several beach and recreational personnel tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Ed Lifshitz, director of the New Jersey Department of Health’s communicable disease service, said during a COVID-19 briefing last week that the state has no evidence that beachgoers are responsible for coronavirus infections.

“We certainly have evidence that indoor parties associated with beach towns and other places have occurred,” he said.

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