Officials: Shore house gatherings lead to 11 new COVID-19 cases in Bucks County

Victorian houses along the beach in Cape May.

Victorian houses along the beach in Cape May. (Public Domain)

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Bucks County health officials say one-third of new COVID-19 cases reported on Saturday are linked to one person who spread the virus at recent house gatherings at the Jersey Shore.

The county’s health department reported that 11 out of 33 new infections were traced to the New Jersey resident, according to a news release.

The New Jersey Department of Health reported that the exposures occurred at a college-age house party in Cape May County over Memorial Day weekend. The municipality was not disclosed. The cases are reportedly mild, and contract tracing is ongoing, the agency said.

Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department, said his office expects additional infections among family members of the new cases.

“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.”

The county has seen a total of 4,972 cases and 471 deaths, according to local officials.

Bucks was among several counties across hard-hit Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery, that entered the “yellow phase” of coronavirus restrictions on Friday.

Damsker reminded the public of the importance of wearing face coverings when attending small gatherings involving people who don’t live in the same household.

Before Memorial Day weekend, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said that he wouldn’t go to the beach.

“There are people there who aren’t wearing masks and you’re putting yourself at risk. I wouldn’t do that, I haven’t done that, and I’m not sure why the governors of Maryland and New Jersey have opened their beaches, but they have,” he said at the time.

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