Residents, visitors and employees in the Rehoboth Beach – Dewey Beach areas are being advised to get tested for coronavirus, after testing in Rehoboth Thursday identified about 100 people as positive for the virus.
Another dozen people who were tested Friday in Dewey Beach also came back positive, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health.
DPH has begun to reach out to the people who tested positive for COVID-19 and their contacts with advice about self-isolation or self-quarantine.
Several beach restaurants and bars proactively closed or are reducing hours for several days.
“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,” DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said. “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.”
Rattay also expressed concern about staff observations and social media posts indicating lapses in mask-wearing guidelines and social distancing protocol in public, including 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,” Rattay added.
Pre-registration for a testing event Monday at The Starboard in Dewey Beach is filled, but a limited number of walk-up tests are available between 1:00 and 6:00 p.m.
Also Monday, Beebe Healthcare and the Delaware Restaurant Association offers testing at Big Fish Grill from nine until two, and Tuesday at Touch of Italy from eleven until one for restaurant and bar employees in the beach area.
Testing for the general public will also be offered Thursday at Epworth United Methodist Church on Holland Glade Road from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
People living in the beach area with others who are not part of the immediate family, those who’ve visited parties, restaurants and bars in the past two weeks without wearing a mask or keeping social distance, and employees in the hospitality and retail sectors who have frequent contact with the public are highly encouraged to be tested.
It is the second cluster of COVID-19 cases in the beach area this month. Positive cases also turned up following Senior Week.
“We truly need the public’s cooperation to report when they see persons at businesses not wearing face coverings or social distancing as required,” DPH Medical Director Dr. Rick Hong said. “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.”