August 6, 2020

CDC: COVID-19 Outbreak Occurred at Overnight Camp Despite Preventive Measures

A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes an outbreak of COVID-19 at an overnight youth camp in Georgia in June. The outbreak occurred despite the camp adhering to measures set by Georgia’s Executive Order (PDF) and adopting most of CDC’s recommendations for minimizing the risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission at youth and summer camps. The camp followed CDC suggestions to cohort attendees by cabin, stagger cohorts’ use of communal spaces, implement physical distancing outside of cabin cohorts, and enhance cleaning and disinfection of shared equipment and spaces. Per the state’s executive order, the camp required all trainees, staff members, and campers to provide documentation of a negative viral SARS-CoV-2 test 12 days or fewer before arriving. According to CDC’s report, the camp did not implement its suggested measures of teaching and reinforcing the use of cloth masks for campers and opening windows and doors for increased ventilation in buildings.

According to CDC, the camp held orientation for 138 trainees and 120 staff members June 17–20. Staff members remained at the camp following orientation, and 363 campers and three additional senior staff members arrived on June 21. Two days later, a teenage staff member left the camp after developing chills the previous evening. The staff member was tested and received a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2 on June 24. CDC states that camp officials began sending campers home that same day, and the camp was closed on June 27.

CDC’s preliminary analysis focuses on the 597 residents of Georgia who attended the camp; out-of-state attendees are excluded from the agency’s report. According to CDC, test results were available for 344 attendees from Georgia. Of this group, 76 percent, or 260 individuals, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 between their first day at camp and 14 days after leaving. Symptom data was available for 136 cases. Among these cases, 26 percent of patients reported no symptoms. Those who were symptomatic most commonly reported subjective or documented fever, headache, and sore throat. The median age of campers was 12 years, and the median age of staff members was 17.

“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,” CDC’s report states. “The multiple measures adopted by the camp were not sufficient to prevent an outbreak in the context of substantial community transmission.”

View the full analysis in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.