Despite taking precautions and following guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children around the U.S. have been affected by summer camp coronavirus outbreaks as several camps have been forced to close.
In Georgia, YMCA camps were shut down after 85 kids and counselors tested positive for the virus, the Macon Telegraph reported. The positive cases accounted for 18% of the camp community.
Lauren Koontz, president and CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, told 11 Alive that the outbreak could be traced back to spending time on Lake Burton in northeast Georgia and occurred despite “careful planning” and “adherence to safety guidelines.”
“A great deal of thought and planning went into the decision to hold Camp High Harbour,” Koontz said. “In preparing for camp, we collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and the American Camp Association and followed the safety guidelines and protocols of the Executive Order from the State of Georgia.”
At the beginning of the summer, the CDC and American Camp Association released guidelines to help organizations decide if and how they would open for the 2020 season. Guidelines stressed keeping the same small group of campers together for the camp duration, practicing hand sanitation and respiration hygiene, and wearing face coverings.
The YMCA camps aren’t the only ones affected by COVID-19. NPR reported that 82 attendees at Christian summer camp Kanakuk K-2 in Stone County, Missouri contracted COVID-19.
NPR said that Kanakuk implemented several safety measures to ensure campers’ safety, including requiring a two-week self-quarantine before camp began.
“The decision to close has resulted in all campers, counselors and staff to return to their homes,” the county said in a Facebook post. “[The Stone County Health Department] will be working closely with Kanakuk Kamps to identify exposed individuals and quarantine those individuals, as necessary.”
Fox Business reported that 76 COVID-19 cases were identified at Pine Cove camp in Texas. Additional camps have closed for COVID-19 outbreaks in Alabama and Arkansas, although neither camp disclosed how many kids or counselors got sick.
The summer camp coronavirus outbreaks this summer suggest that it was probably wise for most organizations to close their doors. In early July, CNBC reported that two out of every three summer camps remained closed this year. The American Camp Association told CNBC only about 20%-30% of ACA overnight camps are open this summer.
On July 31, it was reported that 260 people attending an overnight summer camp in Georgia tested positive for the coronavirus. Among those were the 51 who were 10 years old or younger. Reportedly, the camp did not require face masks.