231 children test positive for COVID after attending summer camp in Georgia, CDC says


This illustration, created at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows the novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

At least 231 children and 29 adults who attended a Georgia overnight camp in June have tested positive for COVID-19, including 51 children under 10, and many who described feeling no symptoms.

The results, published Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Georgia Department of Public Health, show that young children can contract the virus and potentially spread it to others.

“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.” the report states.

The researchers did not identify the camp or say where in Georgia it was located, but said 597 Georgia residents, ages 6-59, attended the camp between June 17-27. The agencies were able to obtain test data for 344 people who attended the camp, with 260 (76%) of those testing positive.

The researchers can’t determine how many people were infected at the camp (some may have gotten the virus shortly before or after) and researchers were not able to obtain test results for everyone who attended. The report counts only people who tested positive within 14 days after leaving the camp.

The results were compiled by comparing a list of people who attended the camp to the Georgia Department of Public Health’s database of people who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The researchers say the results are “likely an underestimate because cases might have been missed among persons not tested or whose test results were not reported.”

The 260 people who tested positive included 51 children age 6-10, out of 100 total in that age group who attended the camp. Among those age 11-17, 180 tested positive out of 409 attendees, and 29 of the 88 people over 18 who went to the camp also tested positive.

There were 27 non-Georgia residents who also attended the camp but were not included in the study.

The CDC issued a statement addressing the study Friday, saying that it was important to follow the agency’s guidelines to prevent the spread of the disease.

“The camp adopted some mitigation steps found in CDC Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps to minimize the risk for SARS-CoV-2 introduction and transmission to include cohorting of attendees by cabin and enhanced cleaning and disinfection,” the CDC said. “However, the camp did not require the 600 campers to wear masks, only the staff.

”Additionally, camp attendees engaged in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities that included daily vigorous singing and cheering, which might have contributed to transmission.”

According to the CDC, the camp opened with staff orientation and training on June 17, with 138 trainees and 120 staff members, ranging in age from 14-59. The staff members stayed for the first camp session, June 21–27, and were joined by 363 campers and three senior staff members on June 21.

On June 23, a teenage staff member left the camp after experiencing chills the night before. On June 24, that staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

The camp began sending some campers home on June 24 and closed completely on June 27.

Of the 260 who tested positive, the researchers were able to survey 136 about the symptoms they experienced during their illness. Thirty-six of those (26%) reported no symptoms, while 100 reported symptoms including fever (65% of cases), headache (61%), and sore throat (46%).

The CDC report said the camp had adhered to requirements in Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order that allowed summer camps to reopen on May 31. The agency said the camp complied with the required precautionary measures and some, but not all, of the recommendations from the CDC guidelines for reopening summer camps.

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

Of those who tested positive, 200 of the 260 were staying overnight in a “large cabin,” meaning more than 15 people slept in the same building. The CDC said 375 of 597 people included in the study slept in such an arrangement.

“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 CDC report states. “Asymptomatic infection was common and potentially contributed to undetected transmission, as has been previously reported.”

The full breakdown of the testing results is below:

Characteristic Total Number Positive Percent Positive
All attendees 597 260 44%
Age 6-10 100 51 51%
Age 11-17 409 180 44%
Age 18+ 88 29 33%
Staff members only 117 66 56%
Campers only 346 168 49%
Trainees (attended June 17-21) 134 26 19%
Test result available 344 260 76%