A coronavirus outbreak at a Georgia sleepaway camp shut down activities after just four days, but not before hundreds were infected.
The camp, which was identified as YMCA Camp High Harbour at Lake Burton by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, hosted orientation for 138 trainees and 120 staff members in mid-June, according to the Centers for Disease Control, before opening its doors to 363 campers and three senior staff members on June 21.
Two days later, a teenage staffer went home sick with chills and tested positive for coronavirus the next day.
Officials immediately began sending home campers and the facility was completely shut down on June 27.
As of Friday, 344 attendees had been tested and 260 tested positive for the virus, or 76% of those tested. More than half of the positive tests were between 6 and 10 years old.
About a quarter of those who tested positive reported no symptoms, while others experienced fever, headache and sore throat.
While staff members were required to wear face masks, campers were not, according to the CDC.
“Relatively large cohorts sleeping in the same cabin and engaging in regular singing and cheering likely contributed to transmission,” health officials said.
The 31 cabins at the camp averaged 15 people each and the CDC said windows and doors were closed, which discouraged air flow.
Parrish Underwood, chief advancement officer for the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, told the Journal Constitution that they “made every effort to adhere to best practices outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Camp Association.”
“Attending Camp High Harbour is a tradition numerous generations of Y families look forward to every summer,” he said in a statement. “Many of these individuals reached out to our staff to express their desire for us to open our residential camps in an effort to create normalcy in their children’s lives due to the detrimental impact of COVID-19. This weighed heavily in our decision to open, a decision in retrospect we regret.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp allowed summer camps to open, then overnight camps for for campers and staff who had tested negative for coronavirus within 12 days.
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