By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
While some Jersey Shore towns are struggling with coronavirus infections in their beach patrol ranks, no Sea Isle City lifeguards have tested positive for COVID-19, city officials said Monday while emphasizing the safety protocols in place to protect municipal workers.
“Right now, we do not have one single lifeguard in isolation or quarantine,” Beach Patrol Chief Renny Steele said in an interview.
Steele added that no lifeguards have tested positive for the coronavirus and all of them remain on duty.
“We’re always taking special precautions,” he said of steps to protect the lifeguards.
In contrast to Sea Isle, some beach towns have placed lifeguards in quarantine after they tested positive for coronavirus. New Jersey health officials reported that 35 lifeguards on Long Beach Island were infected after attending after-hours house parties.
Surf City and Harvey Cedars, two of the towns on Long Beach Island, reported coronavirus infections in their beach patrols. Harvey Cedars reported on its municipal website that 17 lifeguards came down with the virus after they were at a house party in Surf City.
According to media reports, 25 members of Avalon’s beach patrol are now in quarantine after attending a house party that resulted in at least one of the lifeguards testing positive for the coronavirus.
Other shore towns have reported smaller numbers of lifeguards being placed in quarantine as a precaution after some of them tested positive or displayed coronavirus symptoms.
In Sea Isle, the lifeguards have been wearing masks, practicing social distancing and adhering to other safety protocols since they began protecting the beaches in May for the summer tourism season.
Among the safety measures, they are required to wear masks if two of them share a single lifeguard stand, city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said. In some cases, one lifeguard will sit on a stand while the other will stay on the beach to practice social distancing, Custer added.
“They are definitely taking precautions,” she said.
On some Sea Isle beaches, the city has placed two stands so that lifeguards each have their own stand instead of having to share one.
Lifeguards are sterilizing their stands each morning and disinfecting their equipment, including their radios. They also have face coverings that they wear if they come in close contact with the public.
Custer noted that safety protocols for the beach patrol are part of a broader strategy by Sea Isle to protect the city’s workforce and the public from COVID-19.
“The city is taking this very seriously and taking precautions in every department,” she said.
City Hall is open to the public only in the lobby on the first floor. Sea Isle’s other municipal buildings remain closed to the public, including the Welcome Center.
There is also a citywide cleaning program for buildings and municipal vehicles, Custer pointed out.
“It’s the right thing to do to protect people,” she said.
So far this summer, members of the public wanting to buy beach tags at the Welcome Center must stand in line at least six feet apart and wear face coverings. Beach tags are sold from a window in front of the Welcome Center, not inside the building.