As state officials across the country scramble to solidify plans to reopen schools in the fall, a new report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention analyzing the transmission rate at a Georgia overnight camp suggests that the spread of the coronavirus amongst students is inevitable.
The study, released Friday, analyzed 597 children and staff who attended the overnight camp between June 21 and June 27. At the end of the week, 76 percent of campers who were tested came back positive—despite the organizers following most state guidelines set by the governor and the CDC.
The camp, however, didn’t require campers to wear masks, only the staff, or open windows and doors for increased ventilation, per CDC guidelines. And it allowed attendees to engage in outdoor and indoor activities—like singing and cheering—that also contributed to the high transmission rate, the report stated.
“These findings demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 spread efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups, despite efforts by camp officials to implement most recommended strategies to prevent transmission,” the report said, noting that the median age for the campers was 12 and the gender split was even.
The report said it only took two days for a teenage staff member at the camp to develop chills and leave the camp.
The next day, she tested positive for the coronavirus—prompting the camp to immediately begin sending attendees home before closing its doors on June 27.
The study noted that test results were only available for 344 of 597 attendees and thus likely underestimated the total spread at the camp.
“Given the increasing incidence of COVID-19 in Georgia in June and July some cases might have resulted from transmission occurring before or after camp attendance,” the study added. “Finally, it was not possible to assess individual adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures at [the] camp… including physical distancing between, and within, cabin cohorts and use of cloth masks, which were not required for campers.”
The report adds to the evidence suggesting children of all ages are susceptible to coronavirus, which has killed at least 150,000 Americans and infected over 4.5 million.
While it focused on one overnight camp that didn’t adopt every measure it could to prevent an outbreak, the high transmission rate among a group of children will have implications for the ongoing push for schools to reopen in the fall.
In Indiana, at least one student has already tested positive for the coronavirus after the first day of school. According to the Indianapolis Star, the student only attended some classes at Greenfield-Central Junior High School before they were sent home and immediately isolated. Across town, an Avon High School staff member also tested positive for COVID-19 but had not yet been at school. And in Arizona, one teacher died and another two were infected after sharing a classroom to hold online classes.
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Source: Daily Beast