A coronavirus outbreak was reported at a summer camp overnight in Georgia that did not require campers to wear face masks.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study Friday in the outbreak, saying it shows children are susceptible to the virus and “play an important role in transmission.”
The camp, which the CDC did not name, had an orientation for 120 employees and more than 130 trainers in mid-June, according to its weekly Morbidity and Mortality report. Staff members stayed at the camp and on June 21 more than 360 campers between the ages of 6 and 19 joined.
Days later, on June 23, a teenage staff member left after he developed chills and later tested positive for coronavirus. The next day the camp began sending people home and alerted the state public health department.
Among the children and staff tested for the virus, 260 tested positive, with 231 of them aged 17 or under.
“Setting up, like overnight summer camps, poses a unique challenge in preventing the spread of infectious diseases, given the amount of time campers and staff members spend nearby,” the CDC said in a statement.
The health department advised everyone attending the camp to get tested for the virus and sit in quarantine. Those who tested positive were asked to isolate. The camp closed on June 27th.
According to the CDC, the camp had everyone submitting documentation that had proven negative for the virus, but did not require campers to wear face masks. Only staff members were required to wear masks.
The report also noted that campers slept in huts and participated “in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including vigorous singing and applause every day.”
“Asymptomatic infection was common and potentially contributed to undetected transmission, as previously reported,” the CDC report stated. “This research adds to the body of evidence showing that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and, contrary to initial reports, may play an important role in transmission.”
The CDC said in its press release that proper use of face masks, along with rigorous cleansing and social distancing, can help prevent the spread of the virus. These recommendations are included in the CDC’s recently published guideline for reopening schools, which has been debated as the White House calls for schools to be fully reopened.