The Delaware Division of Public Health is asking parents of teens who stayed at a home or attended large gatherings during senior week to seek testing for COVID-19.
The recommendation comes after DPH learned of several positive cases among teens staying in a rental unit in the Delaware beach area.
DPH and Gov. John Carney have been concerned about “Jersey Shore” style groups living in close proximity spreading the virus.
The state has delayed announcements on Phase 3 reopenings, while allowing short term rentals in Phase 2
At least three out of more than a dozen teens who were living in a rental unit in Dewey Beach recently tested positive for COVID-19. While at the residence, the teens attended several gatherings with crowds in Rehoboth.
The events potentially exposed as many as a hundred or more people to the virus.
The division has undertaken contract tracing and is providing guidance on how to self-isolate or self-quarantine.
Further information will not be issued, due to privacy concerns.
DPH is not currently aware of additional cases of COVID-19 from senior week activities, but strongly recommends anyone who participated in senior week activities, especially in Dewey/Rehoboth beach, and who lived or stayed with a group, or attended a large gathering, to consider themselves at risk for the virus, self-monitor for symptoms and to consider testing.
Information about testing events, 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/.
“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 tracing all of the individuals they may have exposed because they likely don’t know everyone’s names,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “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.”
“This incident underscores the importance of wearing face coverings and social distancing,” said DPH Medical Director Dr. Rick Hong. “We recognize that the risk for transmission is going to increase during reopening; this was incorporated into our overall reopening strategy. However, for reopening to progress, we continue to ask the public to follow basic infection control and prevention measures. It’s critically important for people to remember – the more interactions people have with each other, especially when not social distancing and wearing a face covering, the higher the risk of infection.”
Families whose children participated in senior week activities at the beach, and are planning graduation parties, should consider rescheduling them for 14 days after the potential exposure.
Those holding the events should consider their children at-risk for the virus and limit the teens’ exposure to vulnerable family and friends such as grandparents or family members with chronic health conditions.
DPH is also encouraging teens and young adults who may be living together during the summer months, particularly in the beach area where group living is a common practice, to consider getting tested at least once a month – or immediately if they develop symptoms.
Those who work in industries with more frequent contact with members of the public (including the hospitality and restaurant industry) should also consider being tested for COVID-19 once a month.
Anyone with the following symptoms should stay home: Symptoms include 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.
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 can be directed to: COVID.DOJ@delaware.gov. Questions related to business re-openings or operations as businesses reopen should go to COVID19FAQ@delaware.gov.