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Delaware beach visitors, residents: Get a COVID-19 test, officials say after 100 people potentially exposed to virus

The teens attended several crowded gatherings in Rehoboth and Dewey beaches, potentially exposing at least 100 people to the virus.

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — Delaware Health officials are asking those who recently visited Rehoboth or Dewey beaches, or who live there, to get a COVID-19 test after more than 100 people were exposed to the virus in the area.

The Delaware Division of Public Health reports that after conducting coronavirus tests in the area, 100 people in Rehoboth and over a dozen people in Dewey tested positive for the virus.

At least three out of a dozen teens who were staying together in a Senior Week rental unit in Dewey Beach tested positive for coronavirus, according to Delaware health officials. 

The teens attended several crowded gatherings in Rehoboth, potentially exposing at least 100 people to the virus.

City officials later wrote on Facebook that three lifeguards in Rehoboth Beach also tested positive for COVID-19.

"We believe at this time there was very little contact with the public," Rehoboth Police Chief Keith Banks said. “We immediately executed our COVID response protocol and contacted the local health department. All lifeguards were notified of the exposure and will be tested within the next 24 hours."

Banks said the lifeguards who have tested positive are asymptomatic and are staying home until medically cleared to return to work. 

Even though three lifeguards are out, Banks said that staffing levels are high enough that it will not negatively impact the lifeguard operations on the beach.

The lifeguards will be tested in the next 24 hours and won’t return to work until they’re medically cleared to do so.

Delaware Health Department officials are making contact with people who may have been exposed to the virus.

“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 tracking all of the individuals they may have exposed because they likely don’t know everyone’s names," DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said. "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."

Delaware Gov. John Carney has ordered the closures of beach bars ahead of the July 4th holiday weekend.

Carney also said the state would not move into phase three of its reopening plan.

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