NBC 7 has learned 15 San Diego lifeguards have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks. The city confirms there were multiple cases at two separate locations, but those locations are not accessible to the public.
“We anticipate that things like this are going to happen. When infections go up in the community, they’re going to go up in the workforce as well,” said San Diego lifeguard Chief James Gartland.
Gartland immediately emphasized the cases will not have any impact on lifeguard services.
The 15 positive cases represent less than 5% of the current 350 available lifeguards. Most of the infected lifeguards are not showing symptoms, and none have been hospitalized, according to Gartland.
It’s not known how the lifeguards contracted the virus, but most of the cases were identified through contact tracing.
The Chief is emphasizing safety and personal responsibility among his workforce.
“Make good decisions, protect yourself, we provide all the PPE needed for the employees here to do their job safely and to do the best they can to protect themselves from COVID-19,” said Gartland.
While unable to provide an exact number, Gartland said the majority of lifeguards are vaccinated.
Free volunteer testing will be made available to all lifeguards for the next two weeks. As an added safety precaution, lifeguards are also wearing masks indoors and while driving vehicles and vessels.
Gartland said asymptomatic lifeguards will remain under quarantine protocol pending negative test results, and said positions will be backfilled by other lifeguards.