Overnight camp didn’t require masking or vaccination, sparked 648% increase in COVID-19 cases


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – An overnight camp in Illinois exposed 1,127 people from several states to COVID-19, the CDC reported. Of the 180 cases confirmed as a result, 34 percent were in people who did not attend the camps.

The CDC reported a religious organization held multi-day day camps with few COVID-19 precautions.

Five days were reserved for people ages 14 to 18 and a two-day adult conference was scheduled following that camp.

The organization did not require vaccination or testing to participate. Masks were not included in the packing list either.

Campers stayed in shared facilities, dined indoors and participated in both small and large group activities. There were a total of 298 people participating.

On the second to last day of the camp for the 14 to 18 year olds, the CDC reported one camper left after becoming ill with COVID-19 like symptoms. They later tested positive for COVID-19.

The 530 person adult conference also did not require vaccination, testing or masking. The first COVID-19 cases was diagnosed after the conference concluded.

The Illinois Department of Public Health eventually linked 180 cases of COVID-19 to the camps. Of those, 122 were people infected from being at the camp while 58 cases were identified as secondary cases, or those later in close contact with camp attendees.

The delta variant was found in 87 percent of cases.

The CDC concluded this case emphasizes how much COVID-19 can spread at large events when precautions are not put in place.

They said it underscored the importance of prevention measures like vaccination, masking, social distancing and testing.

While 15 percent of primary cases were in vaccinated individuals, the CDC reported no infected vaccinated people were hospitalized. Three people did go to the emergency room for care.

Before the camp, Adams County, where many of the campers lived, averaged about four cases per day. After the camps, that increased to 33 a day – a 648 percent jump. The CDC said because they did not have access to full camp rosters and not everyone was tested, the number of infections tied to the camps were likely higher.

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