The outbreak at Camp Pontiac, an overnight camp in upstate New York, began in girls' dorms. Nurses worried young campers were showing symptoms of Covid -19, began administering tests. Last Saturday one came back positive.
Others would follow quickly: As of Thursday morning, 31 of the 550 campers at the camp had tested positive for the coronavirus, said Jack Mabb, the health director for Columbia County, where the camp is located.
None of the children were seriously ill from the virus, Mr Mabb said.
The outbreak, occurring as the highly transmissible variant Delta spreads across the country and cases of Covid-19 increase in New York State, is emblematic of the challenges that arise when a huge population cannot be vaccinated, although this demonstrates the effectiveness of vaccines.
The virus has reached campsites, well that all but a handful of Camp Pontiac staff and their children age 12 and over are vaccinated. All 31 children who test positive for the virus are under 12, making them too youngto receive vaccines in the United States, Mr Mabb said.
It is still unclear when young children will be eligible for the vaccine - said the President Biden this week he believed clearance would come soon - Mr Mabb said he feared the outbreak could portend the desperate return of in-person learning this fall .
"I think when the kids go back to school we might see it, and I'm concerned about that," Mr. Mabb.
So far, the epidemic does not appear to have spread from Camp Pontiac to the surrounding community, and it does not appear there may be so-called "breakthrough " infections among vaccinated individuals.
The New York epidemic makespart of a series of recent Covid-19 clusters linked to camps across the United States this summer. In Texas, over 125 teens and adults at a church camp tested positive after an indoor event. The Kansas Health Department reported several camp-related outbreaks in and around the state. Illinois reported over 80 cases , mostly teenagers, in a summer camp there.
These epidemics, on the whole, have occurred inats with lower vaccination rates than New York State, where 74 percent of adults and 62 percent of all residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine .
Susie Lupert, executive director of the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey, said that the major epidemics in the camps in these two states were not common.
"We have not heard of any epidemics," Lupert said. “Certainly there have been positive cases here and there that have been easy to contain. And the camps continue to operate as they planned.
The New York Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment. But several county health departments said they saw little or no of this.s linked to the camps.
Nancy McGraw, health director for Sullivan County in the Catskills, said the county had seen less than 10 cases linked to the camps since June. Dan Torres, deputy deputy county manager for Ulster County, said the county has been "lucky so far ". The coronavirus epidemic›
The New Jersey Department of Health has been informed of six outbreaks linked to the camps, has said a spokesperson. All of them - three in Bergen County, two in Burlington County, and one in Essex County - were smaller than the Pontiac Camp outbreak; So far, only 16 camp-related cases have been reported in the'State.
After being forced to close in 2020, night camps in New York were given the green light to open in May. Parents, eager to offer their children a semblance of normalcy after a school year marked by distance learning and social isolation, eagerly send their children to school.
Nonetheless, with the pandemic remaining a threat, the camps had to comply with numerous state guidelines on wearing masks, social distancing and testing, and they were required to submit plans for security that detailed how they would handle potential outbreaks.
Sir. Mabb, the county's health official, said Camp Pontiac had submitted such a plan. Campers and staff were tested for the virus before arriving at camp, and the camp worked closely with theDepartment of Health since becoming aware of the outbreak.
Camp Pontiac, located in Copake, NY, is approximately 110 miles away north of New York City on 150 acres at the foot of the Berkshires. Boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 16 attend the camp, and about half of them are under the age of 12. The camp lasts seven weeks and costs between $ 12,200 and $ 13,550, according to the camp website.
The camp administration said in a statement. communicated that she was keeping in touch with the families of the campers and noted that it was owned and operated by two medics who are at the camp during the summer. but he passed on a letter he sent to parents saying he had decided to test all unvaccinated campers for coronavirus.
The camp will not close despite the outbreak, Mr Mabb said.
Instead, moreof 100 children - the 31 who tested positive and over 80 who were in close contact - had been asked to quarantine or isolate.
The Most of the campers are from metropolitan New York, and their parents had picked them up, although one, Mr Mabb said, sent a private jet. Once their quarantine is over, they will be allowed to return to the camp.
Fewer than 10 children from more distant states were held in an isolation zone of camp . "Obviously, you can't put them on an airplane, and you can't put them on the bus," Mr. Mabb said.
Dr. Philip Zachariah, an epidemiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and professor of pediatrics at Columbia University there, said parents worried about the risk of transmission in the camps should ask directors of policy claires on vaccinations and masking.
But he said the precautions that the camps had already been requested to take in the state were likely to keep children safe, especially as vaccinations increase.
Dr. Zachariah also noted that children who contracted the virus were generally asymptomatic or "mildly symptomatic" and were very unlikely to be hospitalized.
As that such, he did not think that epidemics in camps across the country would necessarily herald a dangerous wave of disease among unvaccinated children once the school year began.
" Is the canary in the coal mine for the massive school epidemics in the fall? I don't think so, ”said Dr Zachariah.