Georgia camp with COVID-19 outbreak didn´t require masks

Grant Boone
August 5, 2020

Hundreds of children contracted the coronavirus at a summer camp in the U.S. state of Georgia last month, infected at least 260 of the 597 attendees.

The statement also noted that multi-day, overnight summer camps "pose a unique challenge" in preventing the spread of infectious diseases, because of the time all the campers and staff spend in close proximity.

On June 21, the 250 employees were joined by three senior staff member and 363 campers ranging between ages six and 19. A total of 597 Georgia residents attended camp A.

In their analysis, researchers found that the overall "attack rate" was 44%, with counselors and staff reporting the highest rate at 56% due to their prolonged time at the camp. Among children aged 6-10, 51% of test results were positive.

That very same day, the camp began to send people home and alerted the state's Department of Public Health the next day before shutting down on June 27. DPH recommended that all attendees be tested and self-quarantine, and isolate if they had a positive test result. Test results were available for only 344 individuals, but of those, 76% tested positive for the virus.

The camp in question ignored CDC recommendations that all participants should wear sheet masks, and only asked its staff to put them on.

Staff members were required to wear cloth face masks.

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While sleepover camps are not schools, and staff members are not teachers, the authors said the camps adopted CDC guidelines for youth and summer programs.

There was also a "variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including daily vigorous singing and cheering" - prime activities for the spread of breath droplets laden with coronavirus.

To view the full report from the CDC, visit SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Infection Among Attendees of an Overnight Camp - Georgia, June 2020.

Forty-four percent of those infected were in the 11-to-17-year-old group and one-third were between ages 18 and 21. No deaths or hospitalizations were reported, and most reported symptoms like fever, headache, and sore throat. Not surprisingly, this outbreak proves kids are just as capable as spreading COVID-19 as anyone else.

Although the name of the camp wasn't given in the reports, the timeline appears to line up with an outbreak that occurred at the YMCA's Camp High Harbor on Lake Burton in Rabun County, near the state's northern border with North Carolina.

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. But this is only the latest evidence to suggest that children can readily spread the coronavirus.

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