A coronavirus outbreak at a Georgia sleepaway camp in June infected hundreds with the coronavirus, renewing fears about children contracting the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
YMCA Camp High Harbour at Lake Burton required certain preventative measures– including masks for counselors– but was forced to close just days after reopening due to the outbreak, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Out of 344 campers and staff tested for the virus, 260 came back positive in the weeks following its closure, including 168 children.
“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,” the CDC report on Friday said.
The camp held an orientation for 138 trainees and 120 staff members in mid-June before they were joined by 363 campers and three senior staff members on June 21. Two days later, a teenage staffer went home sick with chills. The staffer tested positive the next day, which is when the camp started sending campers home.
The CDC report found that attendees had engaged in a myriad of indoor and outdoor activities, including “daily vigorous singing and cheering.” Windows and doors were opened to increase ventilation in buildings, although cloth masks were not required for campers.
“Relatively large cohorts sleeping in the same cabin and engaging in regular singing and cheering likely contributed to transmission,” the CDC added. “Use of cloth masks, which has been shown to reduce the risk for infection, was not universal.”
At least 74 percent of attendees had symptoms that included fever, headache, and sore throat. Of the children that tested positive, 51 were between the ages of 6 to 10. 180 attendees that tested positive were among those aged 11-17 years, while 27 were aged 18-21 years.
The CDC added that their report demonstrates that children of all ages are susceptible to COVID-19 infection and “contrary to early reports, might play an important role in transmission.”
Gov. Brian Kemp had allowed day camps to open for the summer as part of Georgia’s reopening plan, according to the paper. An executive order in May would later allow overnight camps to operate under certain guidelines.