LBI Lifeguards Get COVID After Parties

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

LONG BEACH ISLAND – State officials again urged young people not to go to indoor parties after a few dozen lifeguards attending social gatherings outside work tested positive for COVID-19.

  In his daily coronavirus press conference, Gov. Phil Murphy urged parents and children to wear masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. He also asked them to have their gatherings outdoors because the virus is known to spread less frequently outside.

  “Although they don’t experience what we would call severe illness as often, young people can still transmit COVID-19 to those that they love. We need them to take this public-health threat seriously,” said Department of Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli.

  In an interview with WHYY, Long Beach Island Health Department director Daniel J. Krupinski said on July 24 that 11 Harvey Cedars and 12 Surf City lifeguards tested positive.

  Krupinski said that the virus spread from social gatherings on July 12 and 14. Symptoms started around July 18.

  A few days after that interview, Harvey Cedars’ website noted that 18 of their lifeguards tested positive. However, they noted that they have more than 70 in total, so the beaches remained fully staffed.

  “They were taken off duty as lifeguards and isolated,” Harvey Cedars said. “Close contacts and attendees of this gathering have been quarantined. Individuals will not be eligible to return to work, at the earliest and at management discretion, until they meet discharge criteria established by the LBI Health Department.”

  When on the clock, the lifeguards sat in separate chairs, six feet or more apart, with their own equipment, and were instructed to follow a strict protocol of social distancing, Harvey Cedars’ website read.

  Surf City’s web page also said that the beaches will remain protected from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and that “Adjustments may be made from day to day to ensure the safety of all patrons and guards.’’