A pair of YMCA camps in Georgia closed down in late June after a counselor tested positive for the coronavirus, but in the days since they were shut, the number of confirmed infections has climbed into the dozens, media outlets report.
YMCA called the summer season off early for High Harbour Camp locations at Lake Burton and Lake Allatoona, but at least 30 or more camp attendees have, or have had, the virus, outlets have reported.
But as of Friday, officials said the true number is much higher -- at least 85 kids and counselors have tested positive -- all stemming from their time at Lake Burton, Georgia Department of Public Health officials told McClatchy News.
Campers are all between 7-14 years old and staff between 16-22, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That’s about 18% of the 362 camper and 118 staff members, the publication said.
The YMCA says this situation happened despite careful planning and adherence to safety guidelines laid out by leading health experts and mandated by the state, 11Alive reported.
“A great deal of thought and planning went into the decision to hold Camp High Harbour,” Lauren Koontz, President and CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, told the station. “ In preparing for camp, we collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and the American Camp Association and followed the safety guidelines and protocols of the Executive Order from the State of Georgia.”
The summer is still young, but Georgia is far from the only state to see significant camp outbreaks.
Missouri health officials announced Monday that at least 82 campers, counselors and staff have been infected at the Kanakuk K-2 Camp -- a Christian camp serving ages 13-18 -- located near Branson, The Kansas City Star reported.
The camp talked about its new COVID-conscious health and safety procedures on its website, which the organization claims were reviewed by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, and that he was impressed with the plans, believing them sufficient, according to The Kansas City Star.
In Texas, another Christian camp called Pine Cove has had 76 COVID-19 cases linked back to it, Fox reports. And in Arkansas, Mount Ida’s Camp Ozark closed after “several” people were infected, though it didn’t say how many, Fox said.
It’s a calculated risk for camps, to open or not open, but most are choosing the latter, according to CNBC, or are being forced to stay closed by state or local government mandate. Nearly two-thirds of summer camps haven’t opened this year.
The American Camp Association told CNBC that between 20% and 30% of overnight camps are operating this season. Sacrifices made to insure safety have come at a cost, according to the ACA: An estimated $16 billion in revenue has been lost, as well as 900,000 jobs.