Several teens celebrating senior week in Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting officials to recommend testing for any who attended large gatherings.
At least three out of more than a dozen teens who were living in a rental unit in Dewey Beach recently tested positive for COVID-19, said Andrea Wojcik, spokeswoman for the Division of Public Health. While staying at the rental, she said, the teens attended several crowded gatherings in Rehoboth, potentially exposing as many as a hundred or more to the virus. DPH has begun making contact with the positive cases and their contacts, and is providing guidance on how to safely self-isolate or self-quarantine, she said.
As of the Cape Gazette’s press deadline June 22, Jen Brestel, DPH spokeswoman, said there were no new cases of COVID-19 related to the senior week. Details about when or where the teens stayed are protected information, she said.
Wojcik said DPH would provide no additional information about these particular cases; however, anyone who participated in senior week activities, especially in Dewey Beach or Rehoboth Beach, and who lived or stayed with a group or attended a large gathering, should consider themselves at risk for the virus. Wojcik said they should self-monitor for symptoms and consider getting tested. Information about testing events, including community testing sites and freestanding sites operated by healthcare systems and hospitals, is listed on the testing section of the Delaware coronavirus website at: https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/testing/.
Families whose children participated in senior week activities at the beach, and are planning graduation parties, should consider rescheduling them for 14 days after they left, Wojcik said. If they hold such gatherings, they should consider their children at risk for the virus and limit the teens’ exposure to vulnerable family and friends such as grandparents or family members with chronic health conditions.
DPH is also encouraging teens and young adults who may be living together during the summer months, particularly in the beach area where group living is a common practice, to consider getting tested at least once a month – or immediately if they become symptomatic. Those who work in industries with more frequent contact with members of the public (including the hospitality/restaurant industry) should also consider being tested for COVID-19 once a month.
“It is important for teens participating in senior week activities to consider themselves at risk, and get tested for COVID-19. The risk of COVID-19 spread among other young people of different households living in group settings without social distancing or wearing face coverings is real, and we will have no way of tracing all of the individuals they may have exposed because they likely don’t know everyone’s names,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Just because we are reopening does not mean the virus is gone. It does not mean the risk is gone. It does not mean things are back to normal.”
“This incident underscores the importance of wearing face coverings and social distancing,” said DPH Medical Director Dr. Rick Hong. “We recognize that the risk for transmission is going to increase during reopening; this was incorporated into our overall reopening strategy. However, for reopening to progress, we continue to ask the public to follow basic infection control and prevention measures. It’s critically important for people to remember – the more interactions people have with each other, especially when not social distancing and wearing a face covering, the higher the risk of infection.”
If you are sick with any of the following symptoms, stay home: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, loss of smell or taste. Other symptoms such as headache or digestive symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or lack of appetite) have been identified as potential symptoms related to COVID-19 and may prompt further screening, action or investigation. If you are sick and need essential supplies, ask someone else to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy to get what you need.
Delaware is considering patients fully recovered seven days after the resolution of their symptoms and 10 days after onset of symptoms. Three days after symptoms resolve, patients are no longer required to self-isolate at home; however, they must continue to practice strict social distancing for the remaining four days before returning to their normal daily routine.
Additional demographic data on COVID-19 cases and deaths, including race/ethnicity, more age-specific data and rates information by ZIP code, can be found on the Division of Public Health’s My Healthy Community data portal.