LONG BEACH ISLAND, N.J. — At least 14 Harvey Cedars lifeguards on Long Beach Island have tested positive for coronavirus after attending a party in neighboring Surf City, borough officials said Friday.
The lifeguards were told to quarantine “from the time it was indicated they needed to be tested,” according to a notice on the Harvey Cedars website. They will not be allowed to return to work until they are cleared by the Long Beach Island health department.
Several Surf City lifeguards also reportedly tested positive. The Long Beach Island health department director told radio station WHYY that 12 Surf City lifeguards were infected.
Health director Daniel Krupinski told the station it’s believed the lifeguards contracted the virus during off-duty social gatherings on July 12 and July 14. The health department was notified of the possible cluster on July 18 and July 19, Krupinski said.
Despite more than a dozen lifeguards unable to work, Harvey Cedars officials said beaches remain fully staffed and open to the public.
Harvey Cedars officials said all of their lifeguards were given strict instructions on social distancing and each received a fanny pack that included disinfectant wipes and face coverings at the beginning of the summer season.
Lifeguards are required to sit in separate chairs, use only their own equipment and keep a 6-foot perimeter between lifeguard chairs and beachgoers, according to officials.
The New Jersey Health Department reported 547 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the statewide total to 178,858 since the outbreak began in March.
Another 16 deaths were confirmed to be COVID-19 related. The death toll rose Saturday to 13,856 lives lost.