Hundreds of kids infected with coronavirus within days at overnight camp — CDC

Henrietta Strickland
August 2, 2020

Hundreds of children contracted the coronavirus at a summer camp in the U.S. state of Georgia last month, health authorities said Friday, adding to a growing body of evidence that minors are both susceptible to infection and vectors of transmission.

Of the 597 people who attended the camp, which was not named by the CDC, 344 were tested, and 260 tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus.

In a media statement, the CDC said that the camp did adopt "some mitigation steps" as outlined in its article on youth and summer camps. Cloth masks were required for staff members, though not campers, and the camp did not open doors and windows for increased ventilation, as recommended. The camp's almost 600 attendees were not, however.

The report also noted that campers slept in cabins and participated "in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including daily vigorous singing and cheering".

While the researchers said "consistent and correct" use of cloth masks, as well as physical distancing measures, should be emphasized to mitigate transmission in "congregate settings", they acknowledged that "the multiple measures adopted by the camp were not sufficient to prevent an outbreak in the context of substantial community transmission".

"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", says the CDC report on this outbreak. "Asymptomatic infection was common and potentially contributed to undetected transmission, as has been previously reported".

Researchers also said the findings are the latest in a growing body of evidence suggesting children of all ages are susceptible to the virus and may play "an important role" in its spread.

A teen counselor left the camp after developing chills on June 23.

If anyone tested positive, they were told to isolate. The first reported case was on June 24 and began sending campers home soon after and shut the entire camp down by June 27. A total of 597 Georgia residents attended camp A.

According to the report, the camp held an orientation for 120 staff members and 138 trainees in mid-June.

Officials with the Camp A assure that staff adhered to the measures in Georgia's Executive Order that allowed overnight camps to operate beginning on May 31, including requiring all trainees, staff members, and campers to provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test 12 days before arriving. But recent evidence chipped away at the claim that kids are unaffected, with new research emerging this week about the association between school closures and declines in number of cases and deaths.

The CDC analysis came with a few limitations, however.

The agency notes the attack rates could be underestimated because some cases may have been missed or the test results not reported. Researchers also found children under age 5 may have far more SARS-CoV-2 viral nucleic acid in their noses than adults, which raises questions about their ability to transmit the virus.

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