The Coronavirus Infected Hundreds at a Georgia Summer Camp – The New York Times

Health

The camp took precautions but did not require campers to wear masks, the C.D.C. reported. Singing and cheering may have helped spread the virus.

Credit…Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

As schools and universities plan for the new academic year, and administrators grapple with complex questions about how to keep young people safe, a new report about a coronavirus outbreak at a sleepaway camp in Georgia provides fresh reasons for concern.

The camp implemented several precautionary measures against the virus, but stopped short of requiring campers to wear masks. The virus blazed through the community of about 600 campers and counselors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Friday.

The staff and counselors gathered at the overnight camp in late June. Within a week of the camp orientation, a teenage counselor developed chills and went home.

The camp, which the C.D.C. did not name, started sending campers home the next day, and shut down a few days later. By then, 76 percent of the 344 campers and staffers whose test results were available to C.D.C. researchers had been infected with the virus — nearly half the camp.

The study is notable because few outbreaks in schools or child care settings have been described to date, said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“The study affirms that group settings can lead to large outbreaks, even when they are primarily attended by children,” she said.

“The fact that so many children at this camp were infected after just a few days together underscores the importance of mitigation measures in schools that do reopen for in person learning,” Dr. Rivers added.