Saturday, 08 August, 2020

Over 200 Children Contract COVID-19 at Georgia Summer Camp

Campground cabins in the woods next to a lake Coronavirus infected hundreds of children at US summer camp
Gustavo Carr | 02 August, 2020, 13:08

"A great deal of thought and planning went into the decision to hold Camp High Harbour", Lauren Koontz, President and CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, told 11 Alive at the time.

The overnight camp was able to run in the state of Georgia under Governor Brian P. Kemp's executive order that mentioned overnight summer camps should need campers and employees to test unfavorable for the coronavirus.

The camp followed most of the CDC's safety guidelines for youth and summer camps amid the pandemic - but not all, according to the MMWR.

Perhaps crucially, though, only staff members were required to wear masks, while the campers themselves weren't, according to the report. The camp's almost 600 attendees were not, however.

Additionally, the report noted that campers slept in not well ventilated cabins and participated 'in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including daily vigorous singing and cheering'. The camp also didn't seem to improve their ventilation of buildings by leaving doors and windows open, as recommended.

"These findings demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 spread efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups, despite efforts by camp officials to implement most recommended strategies to prevent transmission", researchers wrote.

"An ongoing investigation will further characterize specific exposures associated with infection, illness course, and any secondary transmission to household members", the group added.

"This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and", the authors write, "contrary to early reports, might play an important role in transmission".

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Those who had been at the camp longest had the highest rate of infection; overall, more than half of the staff, who had arrived before the campers, were infected.

On June 23, a teen staff member left the camp after developing chills the night before. The staff member was tested and reported a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2 the following day. They tested positive for Covid-19, and the camp began sending kids home on June 24.

Officials used the state surveillance system to trace cases back to the original outbreak, and found that the "attack rate" - or the number of positive cases among Georgia-based camp attendees divided by the total number of Georgia-based attendees - was 44%.

On June 21, the 250 employees were joined by three senior staff member and 363 campers ranging between ages six and 19.

Of the 344 available testing results, 76% were positive for SARS-CoV-2. The virus blazed through the community of about 600 campers and counselors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

The CDC analysis came with a few limitations, however. There's also the chance that campers were infected before or after their time at the overnight camp.

The CDC said that while everyone submitted documents showing they had tested negative for COVID-19, students were not require to wear face masks, just staff.

The Southern Africa region is the most affected area in terms of confirmed cases, followed by Northern Africa and Western Africa regions, respectively, the Africa CDC said.