At least three teens who participated in recent senior week activities at the Delaware beaches have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting state health officials to call for widespread testing among teens who took part in similar activities.
The three positive cases resulted from a Dewey Beach rental unit, where more than a dozen teens were living, the Delaware Division of Public Health said in a release issued late Friday night.
While at the beach, state health officials said the teens attended several "crowded" gatherings in Rehoboth, potentially exposing as many 100 people or more to the contagious respiratory virus.
DPH has begun extensive contact tracing to notify anyone who's had contact with the positive cases so they can quarantine.
No further information about the positive cases will be provided.
DPH said while it's not aware of any additional cases tied to senior week activities, anyone who participated in senior week activities, especially in the Dewey/Rehoboth Beach area, or lived or stayed with a group, or attended a large gathering should consider themselves "at risk" for the virus and get tested.
Further, DPH said families whose children participated in senior week activities at the beach, who are planning upcoming graduation parties are being asked to consider rescheduling those parties for two weeks.
"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 in a written statement. “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.”
Additionally, teens and young adults who may live together during the summer months, at the beach, or elsewhere, should be tested at least once a month for COVID-19, state health officials recommended.
While risk for transmission was expected upon reopening, Dr. Rick Hong, DPH medical director said in order for reopening to progress, face coverings are pivotal.
"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," he said.