Coronavirus infected hundreds of children at USA summer camp

Henrietta Brewer
August 2, 2020

A CDC report out Friday documents COVID-19 transmission and infection at an overnight camp in the Peach State, which WSB-TV has confirmed is the YMCA's Camp High Harbour, located in Rabun County along Lake Burton.

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.

They also noted that, pursuant to a recent Georgia executive order, kids and staff at the camp had been mandated to show a negative result from a COVID-19 test performed 12 days or less before they were allowed to enter the camp.

The camp began sending campers home two days later when the staffer got a positive test result for coronavirus.

Among the cases with available data, 26 percent of the patients reported no symptoms.

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

Specifically, the report said that on June 23, a teenage staff member had left the camp after experiencing chills that started the previous evening.

The news of the Georgia camp outbreak came as California surpassed 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and set a new record for the number of coronavirus deaths reported in a single day for the fifth time in July.

These were included in the agency's recently released guidance to reopen United States schools.

The CDC reports that although the camp did a good job sanitizing shared surfaces and requiring staff members to wear masks, numerous 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 attack rate is the total number of new cases divided by the total at-risk population.

The camp held its orientation June 17-20 for its 138 trainees and 120 staff members.

Research into the transmission of the virus remains ongoing, the CDC said. The entire camp was closed June 27. Campers engaged in "a variety of indoor and outdoor activities", including "daily vigorous singing and cheering", they said.

In addition to cloth masks not implemented for campers, another measure not implemented was the opening of windows and doors for increased ventilation in buildings, the CDC report said. The staff member tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Campers were also housed closely together - 15 to a cabin, on average - according to a team led by Christine Szablewski, of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Of the 344 available testing results, 76% were positive for SARS-CoV-2. Of those, 100 reported symptoms - mostly fever, headache and sore throat.

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".

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