Lack of facemask use worries public health officials
The Delaware Division of Public Health is recommending that people in the Delaware beach area, especially in the Rehoboth and Dewey areas to seek testing.
Testing is strongly recommended for those who have not been wearing face masks.
The recommendation comes after testing in Rehoboth Beach on Thursday identified about 100 persons as testing positive for the disease. Testing in Dewey Beach on Friday identified another dozen persons as positive.
DPH is making contact with 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.
As previously announced, testing aimed at hospitality workers is scheduled on Monday and Tuesday. (See previous story below).
Pre-registration for Starboard event is filled, although a limited number of walk-up spots are available.
A second community testing event is scheduled for Thursday, July 2, 2020, at the Epworth United Methodist Church, 19285 Holland Glade Road, Rehoboth Beach from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Additional community testing sites in the beach area are likely to be scheduled in the next week or so. Registration is open at http://delaware.curativeinc.com. Testing is highly encouraged for:
- Those living in the beach area with people who are not part of your family;
- Those attending parties, or restaurants/bars in the last two weeks where you 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.
Information about testing events statewide, including community testing sites and free-standing sites operated by the health care systems and hospitals, is listed on the testing section of the Delaware coronavirus website at: https://coronavirus.delaware.gov/testing/.
“Make no mistake, continuing this behavior is a recipe for disaster,” Rattay said of those not wearing masks. “It is a sure way for us to end up with widespread infection that ultimately may not be contained to the beach area.” Dr. Rattay indicated that 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.”
DPH asks anyone who observes either lack of social distancing or lack of use of face coverings 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 (HSP) section will begin enforcing violations of the state’s reopening requirements in Delaware businesses.
While collaboration and education for non-compliance is the preferred action in most cases, HSP will have a broad array of enforcement actions available to it, 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 they may implement.
Individuals who have complaints about individuals 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.