State asks people living, working or partying at beaches to be tested now

The Department of Public Health wants people at the beach to be tested.

The Department of Public Health wants people at the beach to be tested.

After two days of worrisome positive tests for the coronavirus in Rehoboth and Dewey beaches, the state Division of Public Health is asking people who live, work or play there to be tested.

The groups they want to see tested fall into three categories:

— Those living in the beach area with people who are not part of their family.

— Those attending parties, or going to restaurants/bars in the last two weeks while not wearing a face covering or social distancing.

— People working in the restaurant, hotel or retail industry who have frequent contact with other people.


A press release issued Sunday said that the request comes after about 100 people tested positive in Rehoboth Beach Thursday and another dozen tested positive in Dewey Beach Friday.

It also comes in the buildup to the Fourth of July, which is Saturday. It’s traditionally a busy day, weekend and week at the beach. The  cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale in Florida, which has seen a massive rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, announced last week that it would close its beaches for the Fourth.

The state has begun getting in touch with people who tested positive in Rehoboth and Dewey beaches to ask them to stay home and to remember who they may have been around. Contact tracers will try to find those people and ask them to be tested and to stay home, too, to try to break the chain of infection.


Two free test sites will be available this week. The first will be at the Starboard restaurant in Dewey Beach from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Many people already have registered, but some walk-up spots are available. The second will be Thursday at Epworth United Methodist Church, 19285 Holland Glade Road, Rehoboth Beach from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Additional community testing sites in the beach area are likely to be scheduled in the next week or so, the state said.

Registration is open at Testing is highly encouraged for:

No pre-registration is required. Anyone with questions can call 302-738-2545.


Beebe Healthcare also is partnering with the Delaware Restaurant Association to offer testing Monday and Tuesday to those who work at any food establishments in or near the beaches. Those tests will be Monday from noon to 2 pm. at Big Fish Grill, 20298 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Touch of Italy in Rehoboth Beach in 19724 Coastal Hwy.

Information about testing events statewide is listed on the testing section of the Delaware coronavirus website at:

Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said the state is worried about its own observations that people are not wearing masks at the beaches, as well as photos showing big crowds there of people who don’t have masks on.

“Make no mistake, continuing this behavior is a recipe for disaster,” she said in the press release. “It is a sure way for us to end up with widespread infection that ultimately may not be contained to the beach area.”


Last week, DPH announced a partnership with the Division of Small Business in which DPH’s Health Systems Protection 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, the protection section 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, the state said.

“We truly need the public’s cooperation to report when they see persons at businesses not wearing face coverings or social distancing as required,” said DPH Medical Director Dr. Rick Hong. “Every individual has the opportunity to play an important role in our statewide infection control efforts by telling us when they see something wrong.”

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Betsy Price