Massive COVID-19 outbreak at Georgia summer camp confirmed by CDC
As the country debates whether it’s possible to reopen schools this fall, the latest report of a mass COVID-19 spread at a summer camp is making in-person classroom instruction seem anything but possible. According to a new CDC study, 260 campers and staffers who attended a Georgia YMCA summer camp in June tested positive for the virus.
The Georgia camp in question was not named in the CDC study, though WSB-TV confirms it was YMCA Camp High Harbour. Back in June that camp announced their closure, though news reports at the time reported a COVID-19 outbreak among only 85 individuals, a number we now know is much greater. Per the CDC, 597 individuals — including campers and both teen and adult staffers — attended the camp in June. Test results were available for only 344 individuals, but of those, 76% tested positive for the virus. That is 260 individuals. No deaths or hospitalizations were reported, and most reported symptoms like fever, headache, and sore throat.
The camp numbers clearly show K-12 kids can get the virus.
If kids go home and don’t spread the virus, then everything is okay.
But if kids take the virus home, and it spreads, that’s not good.
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) July 31, 2020
Several days after the camp began, a teenage staff member developed chills and left the camp. The next day, an adult staffer fell ill. At this point, the camp began sending kids home. Only ten days elapsed from the time the first staffers arrived for training to the moment the camp closed its doors. It only took ten days for 250 people across all groups to become infected with COVID-19.
CDC also emphasizes that despite efforts by camp to follow CDC guidelines there were gaps in mask use: “Use of cloth masks, which has been shown to reduce the risk for infection was not universal.”
— Justin Gray (@JustinGrayWSB) July 31, 2020
The CDC reports that although the camp did a good job sanitizing shared surfaces and requiring staff members to wear masks, many of the children at the camp did not wear cloth face masks as the camp did not require it, despite guidance from the CDC stressing the importance of mask-wearing. The CDC also said that the camp did not open enough windows and doors for increased ventilation and that the “daily vigorous singing and cheering” amongst campers might have attributed to the rampant spread.
Some 260 cases of the coronavirus have been tied to attendees and staff at a North Georgia children’s camp in June, according to a report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the largest known superspreading events… https://t.co/C0v2ZWvdUn
— Atlanta News (@AtlNewsNow) July 31, 2020
The CDC also adds that the number of positive cases was likely even higher as they weren’t able to test every person that attended that camp during those two weeks. Not surprisingly, this outbreak proves kids are just as capable as spreading COVID-19 as anyone else.
“This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to [COVID-19] infection and, contrary to early reports, might play an important role in transmission,” the study explained.
The CDC concluded their study by reminding everyone that “physical distancing and consistent and correct use of cloth masks should be emphasized as important strategies for mitigating transmission.”