DEWEY BEACH — It was a tale of two testing sites Monday as hundreds of people who live, work and play at the Delaware beaches showed up to be tested for COVID-19.
One set of testings was being sponsored by the Delaware Restaurant Association and Beebe Healthcare at two restaurants. Meanwhile, testing at The Starboard was manned by the state Division of Public Health.
Hundreds of people seemed to be responding to the state’s call Sunday to be tested if you were around the breaches because 100 people tested positive in Rehoboth Beach Thursday and another 12 in Dewey Friday. State health officials want to try to stop the spread of the virus by identifying those who have it and the people they may come into contact with.
Jake Carfman, who was in 20s and standing in line at the Starboard, said he hadn’t wanted to go to visit his family in the area who lived and worked at the beach. But he came because his mom wanted him to.
“The beach has always been big in our family,” he said.
Although a family member had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, Carfman said he wasn’t worried he was infected, but he wanted to be tested.
Bryan Lee, also in line at The Starboard, said he didn’t think he had the virus, but he works at a local restaurant and was required to be tested.
“It can sometimes be unnerving,” he said. “I have children. But I’ve got to work, this is what I do.”
A steady flow of people arrived for their tests at the Starboard and at Big Fish Grill Monday afternoon.
At Big Fish, testing was in the rear parking lot. A single security officer was busy directing traffic in and out of the entrance while nurses directed pedestrians to where they should go as well as handed out paperwork to anyone getting tested.
Two separate lines of sweating pedestrians began in the center of the lot, ending at tents on opposite sides of the parking lots. Testing took place there.
The recommended social distancing of 6 feet didn’t seem to be monitored, but patients seemed to space themselve out in the sun. Aside from the tents, there was no real shade from the sun and many of those waiting pulled masks away from their face now and then to allow in cooler air.
A hundred or so patients were waiting about 12:30 p.m., with more cars arriving.
Karen Stauffer, director of communication and events with the Delaware Restaurant Association, said they expected several hundred people.
She noted that a mixture of noncompliance — people not wearing masks and not practicing social distancing — combined with an influx of visitors in the area had created “the perfect storm.”
The Restaurant Association and Beebe will be testing again Tuesday, June 30 at Big Fish and Touch of Italy, from noon to 2. p.m.
The association also will be partnering with ChristianaCare later this week to have testing in New Castle County.
Testing was a little more chaotic at The Starboard, where it began at noon and was expected to end at 6 p.m.
The Starboard announced Friday that it was closing for the weekend to allow its employees to be tested, and it asked fans to please observe social distancing and to wear masks to prevent others from getting sick.
Every nurse, police officer and member of the military helping not only had a mask on, but also a protective visor over their face along with gloves.
One of the streets to the side of The Starboard had been barricaded to stop traffic from entering from the highway. A police officer stationed there made sure people who made the mistake of trying to get in were turned around safely.
There were no designated parking areas for people trying to get tested. People walked in from what seemed like every direction, sometimes having to cut through the two waiting lines to get into the end of them.
The two lines wrapped around the right side of the building, with testing in the outside dining area.
A nurse stood up on the planter to speak over the crowd of people, to tell them what was going to happen when they reached the front of the line.
Social distancing was more lax toward the end of the lines than the front. Everyone in line wore a mask, but not all pedestrians walking past on the sidewalk did.
Casey Jewel, an older woman with a broken leg, was sitting on a planter in front of the Starboard after being tested.
She has a beach house in the Dewey Beach area, she said. but didn’t think she’d been exposed to the virus.
“I decide to get tested because it was free,” she said.