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A Summer Camp Welcomed 600. Nearly Half Got COVID

Overnight YMCA camp in Georgia shut down 4 days after first person reported symptoms, per CDC
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2020 6:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – As schools start to slowly reopen after summer break, a red flag has emerged out of a Georgia summer camp on how quickly the coronavirus can spread among children. 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. The alarming finding: that of the 597 attendees at the camp, 344 of them had virus test results available; of those, 260 came back positive—meaning 44% of the camp's children, trainees, and staff became infected. The first documented case came on June 22, when a teen worker who'd attended an orientation the week before started developing symptoms; two days later, a positive test result was confirmed. Campers started being sent home on June 24, and the camp closed on June 27.

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More than half of kids ages 6 to 10 were infected, while children ages 11 to 17 saw a 44% infection rate. One-third of those ages 18-21 came down with the virus. CDC officials say their findings show the virus "spread efficiently" at the camp, "resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups," despite the camp having in place many of the recommended safety protocols. The study takes special care to note this was an overnight camp, and that "relatively large cohorts sleeping in the same cabin and engaging in regular singing and cheering likely contributed to transmission." It also says that use of face masks among the kids "was not universal," though staff had to wear them. A Johns Hopkins epidemiologist tells the New York Times the study shows the need for social distancing, masks, adequate ventilation, and best practices for hygiene in schools when they open. (Read more Georgia stories.)

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