12 Bucks Co. COVID-19 cases linked to house gathering in Cape May County

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Health officials in Bucks County, Pa. said over the weekend that at least 12 cases of COVID-19 have been traced to exposure at recent house gatherings in Cape May County, New Jersey.

New Jersey state health officials say they are investigating a Memorial Day weekend house gathering, attended by college students, and are working with health officials in Bucks County.

As the summer-like weather draws more people to the Jersey shore, health officials say a reminder came over the weekend that COVID-19 is still here.

"I don't think they should gather that much. Unless they're really protecting themselves with masks," said Rose Carrozza who was sitting on a bench on the Ocean City boardwalk.

"It doesn't surprise me. People do what they want to do. But in the end, you don't know who you're affecting, so it's kind of sad at the same time," said Hannah Payne from Bellmawr, N.J.

Bucks County Health Dept. Director Dr. David Damsker says he's not discouraging people from going down the shore - but he does want people to take precautions.

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"I think everybody knows the last few months have been stressful for people. And mental health - it's really important for people to get out there and enjoy themselves. But just do it responsibly, do it safely and I think we can all still have a good summer," said Damsker.

Officials have not released the shore town in which the gatherings were held. Officials say so far all the COVID-19 cases are mild.

Officials down the shore have been encouraging people to wear masks and social distance since the beaches opened for sunbathing last month.

Action News found some full-time shore residents who say while it's nice to see people back at the beach, they hope they're being careful.

"I think that they're anxious to get out and they're relaxing the laws a little bit. Because it's been too long. But I think you should do social distancing," said Peggy Juliano of Ocean City.

Meanwhile, New Jersey continues forward on its road to reopening. Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday afternoon municipal pools and private club swimming pools can open on June 22, adding that full guidance will be released Tuesday by state health officials.

Health officials are sharing these tips:

-Monitor for symptoms like new-onset fever, cough, or shortness of breath for fourteen days.
-Try to stay away from other people for fourteen days; if you can't stay at home, be sure to wear a mask properly and try to stay at least six feet from others.

-Get tested for COVID-19 seven days after having been in a crowd

Nearly 6 million people in Philadelphia and nine other counties in hard-hit southeastern Pennsylvania became the last in the state Friday to shed the tightest restrictions, including a stay-at-home order.

READ MORE: Southeastern Pennsylvania moves to yellow phase, here's what you should know
Gatherings in the yellow phase are still limited to 25 people.

READ MORE: New Jersey to enter Stage 2 of reopening plan on June 15 amid COVID-19 pandemic

New Jersey will enter Stage 2 of its restart and recovery plan on Monday, June 15, which will see the return of outdoor dining and in-person retail shopping.

The governor stresses customers and businesses should adhere to the Department of Health guidance including social distancing and wearing masks.
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