At least 180 coronavirus infections in three states have been traced to an Illinois youth camp and an affiliated men’s conference that did not require participants to be vaccinated or tested for the virus, according to a study published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There have been no deaths related to the outbreak, but five of those infected had to be hospitalized, according to the CDC, which noted that all those hospitalized had not been vaccinated. About 1,000 people in four states were eventually exposed to the virus from people attending the two events, which took place in mid-June.
Building on an earlier investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health, the report highlights the dangers of ignoring established safety guidelines for summer camps, business gatherings and religious gatherings amid a pandemic that continues to plague the United States.
And as the Delta variant causes significant spikes in infections in many states, some public health officials have expressed concern about large Labor Day gatherings without masks or gatekeepers for admission, such as testing or proof of vaccination.
In the report, more than 120 of those infected were camp and conference attendees, and most of the others were members of their immediate household, researchers said. Twenty-nine of the 180 infected people were fully vaccinated against Covid-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2 among epidemiologists.
“This research underscores the impact of secondary SARS-CoV-2 transmission during major events such as camps and conferences when Covid-19 prevention strategies, including vaccination, masking, physical distancing and screening testing, are not implemented,” the CDC report said. . .
While coronavirus infections have hit youth camps across the country, those who embraced testing and masks for attendees — and contact tracing and isolation for the infected — fared much better than those who took a more laissez-faire approach, according to a number of researchers. studies.
Sarah Patrick, the acting epidemiologist for the state of Illinois, said the outbreak illustrated the role children can play in transmitting the virus — and the importance of ensuring they are involved in efforts to stop its spread. .
“We’ve learned that children, who some thought might not easily spread disease among themselves, may in fact be the fire starter that increases transmission beyond their direct contacts and in the community,” she said.
The Crossing, a non-denominational Christian group that organized the five-day youth camp and two-day men’s conference, did not ask participants to be vaccinated or tested, nor was it required to wear a mask during meetings.
The “What to Bring” page of the camp website includes water shoes, sleeping bags, and the Bible, but makes no mention of masks. Campers were between the ages of 14 and 18, making them eligible for the vaccines.
The phone number listed on the Crossing Camp website will be closed on Tuesday. E-mail and voicemail messages left by a reporter seeking comment at Church headquarters in Quincy, Illinois, were not immediately returned.