Indoor beach town parties responsible for some N.J. coronavirus cases, official says

A woman suntans on the beach in Asbury Park, N.J., Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A woman suntans on the beach in Asbury Park, N.J., Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Indoor parties in beach towns, but not activity on beaches, are responsible for some coronavirus cases in New Jersey, a state health official said.

Dr. Ed Lifshitz, director of the New Jersey Department of Health’s communicable disease service, said during Monday’s COVID-19 briefing 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. Lifshitz did not say how many cases are from indoor parties.

New Jersey Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli said parties among young people are leading to an uptick in cases, although she did not specify the percentage linked to parties in beach towns.

Persichilli reiterated that young adults in the Garden State are the fastest-growing group testing positive for the coronavirus.

“More than 730 residents between the ages of 18 and 29 have been hospitalized because of complications from the virus,” she added. “Sadly, there have been 53 deaths among this age group.”

A college-age house party in Cape May County over Memorial Day weekend led to at least 11 COVID-19 infections. In early July, Cape May County officials announced that a majority of new cases were the result of socializing young adults.

For his part, Gov. Phil Murphy said that managing capacities at beaches, which is the responsibility of municipalities except for state and federal parks, is essential to maintaining safety.

“If we don’t manage capacity at beaches and we can’t get social distancing, we’re probably playing with fire,” he said.

P. Kenneth Burns contributed reporting.

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