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DPH encourages testing for teens after COVID cases among senior week activities

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

The Delaware Division of Public Health is encouraging parents of teens who participated in senior week activities that involved living in a group setting or attending a large gathering to have them tested for COVID-19, DPH announced June 19.

The recommendation comes after DPH learned of several positive cases among teens living in a rental unit in the Delaware beach area.

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 there, the teens attended several crowded gatherings in Rehoboth, potentially exposing as many as a hundred or more to the virus. DPH has begun making contact with the positive cases and their contacts and is providing guidance on how to safely self-isolate or self-quarantine.

DPH will not provide additional information about these particular cases. 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 getting tested. For information on testing events and test sites, visit 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,” said DPH Director Karyl Rattay. “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. 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 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 they left. If they hold them, they 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 also encourages 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 become symptomatic. 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.

Individuals with questions about COVID-19 should call Delaware 211, or email info@delaware211.org. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211. Medically related questions regarding testing, symptoms and health-related guidance can be submitted by email at dphcall@delaware.gov. Questions regarding unemployment claims should be emailed to uiclaims@delaware.gov.

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, visit de.gov/coronavirus.