More than 100 people have tested positive following a COVID-19 test event held recently in Rehoboth Beach, and another dozen following a Dewey Beach test site, prompting the Delaware Division of Public Health to recommend people in the Delaware beach area, particularly in Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach, get tested for COVID-19.
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. DPH is investigating potential additional cases in the beach area as well.
“We are extremely concerned by yet another cluster of COVID-19 cases in the beach area and the potential for spread to others both at work and in social gatherings,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We know that some of the positive persons have been at parties recently, potentially transmitting the virus to others who may still be here or may have returned to their homes in other counties or states. We are also concerned by our own staff observations in the beach area and pictures seen on social media of people not wearing face coverings or social distancing while they are out and about, including at bars and restaurants. Make no mistake, continuing this behavior is a recipe for disaster. It is a sure way for us to end up with widespread infection that ultimately may not be contained to the beach area.”
Officials said the following people should be tested:
- Those living in the beach area with people who are not part of their own family
- Those attending parties, or visiting restaurants/bars in the last two weeks where they were not wearing a face covering or social distancing
- People working in the restaurant, hotel or retail industry who have frequent contact with other people.
Rattay said the risk for widespread infection, hospitalization and even death is higher when people spend more time close together (not social distancing), in an indoor setting such as a restaurant or bar, where they are not using face coverings.
Test sites will be available only for people who work in restaurants from noon to 2 p.m., Monday, June 29, at Big Fish Grill, 20298 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach. No preregistration is required. Anyone with questions can call 302-738-2545. Although preregistration is full, a limited number of walk-up spots are available for testing from 1 to 6 p.m., Monday, June 29, at The Starboard restaurant in Dewey Beach.
A test event will be held for anyone in the community from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, July 2, at Epworth United Methodist Church, 19285 Holland Glade Road, Rehoboth Beach.
Additional community testing sites in the beach area are likely to be scheduled in the next week or so, officials said. Registration is open at http://delaware.curativeinc.com.
DPH asks anyone who observes either lack of social distancing or lack of face coverings use by patrons or staff at businesses to report it to HSPContact@delaware.gov. All complaints are anonymous. Last week, DPH announced a partnership with the Division of Small Business in which DPH’s Health Systems Protection section will begin enforcing violations of the state’s reopening requirements in Delaware businesses. While collaboration and education for noncompliance is the preferred action in most cases, HSP will have a broad array of enforcement actions available for use, including business closures as warranted. Some restaurants and bars have chosen to close, limit hours, or limit services based on concerns over the spread of infection in the beach community, and DPH appreciates, supports and encourages any prevention measures businesses may implement.
“We truly need the public’s cooperation to report when they see persons at businesses not wearing face coverings or social distancing as required,” said DPH Medical Director Dr. Rick Hong. “Every individual has the opportunity to play an important role in our statewide infection-control efforts by telling us when they see something wrong. Additionally, we need the assistance of all COVID-19 positive persons to identify the people they have been in close contact with so that those doing contact tracing on behalf of DPH can reach out and give your close contacts guidance on how to safely quarantine. In order to control the further spread of potential infection, we need everyone who is confirmed to have COVID-19 and those who may have been exposed to voluntarily self-isolate and self-quarantine.”
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.
If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have symptoms of illness, make sure to distance yourself from others, particularly vulnerable populations. Older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions – including serious heart conditions, chronic lung conditions including moderate to severe asthma, severe obesity and those who are immunocompromised, including through cancer treatment – may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Individuals who have complaints about people violating public gathering restrictions should contact state or local law enforcement. Concerns that a business may be violating operating restrictions should be directed to: HSPContact@delaware.gov. Questions related to business reopenings or operations as businesses reopen should go to COVID19FAQ@delaware.gov.
Individuals with questions about COVID-19 should call Delaware 2-1-1; those who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211, or email email@example.com. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Medically related questions regarding testing, symptoms, and health-related guidance can be emailed to DPHCall@delaware.gov.
The Division of Public Health asks any Delaware healthcare, long-term care, residential, or other high-risk facility with questions or concerns to email DPH_PAC@delaware.gov or call the DPH Call Center at 1-866-408-1899 and press Ext. 2.
For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to de.gov/coronavirus.