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Minimal Spread of Symptomatic Infections in COVID-19 Camp Study


A recent Duke Health study published in the online journal “Pediatrics,” revealed minimal spread of symptomatic infections among youth and camp counselors at YMCA camps in six central North Carolina counties.

“Our study suggests appropriate measures to reduce the spread of disease can create an environment where normal childhood activities such as day camp, school and after school recreation can be provided with minimal risk,” said author Emily D’Agostino, Dr.PH, an assistant professor in Duke’s department of Family Medicine and Community Health, in a statement. “The study also highlights the critical importance of academic partnerships with community organizations for promoting pediatric health.”

During the 2020 study period from March to August, when community cases of COVID-19 were escalating, D’Agostino, colleagues and co-senior author Ibukun Akinboyo, M.D., assistant professor in the department of Pediatrics at Duke, analyzed data collected from 54 YMCA camps in the greater Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.

In the camps:

  • 39% primarily offered indoor activities
  • 38% were outdoors
  • 23% offered activities in both settings

All camps required staff to receive training in COVID-19 mitigation strategies, adhere to symptom screenings for children and staff, and follow regular guidelines such as:

  • Wearing masks
  • Hand washing/sanitizing
  • Daily cleaning/disinfecting
  • Minimizing group sizes to no more than 10 children

With these measures strictly enforced, the researchers found 19 cases of symptomatic disease among 6,830 children and staff members. The limited number of confirmed infections among the 10 children and nine staff members occurred despite rising incidences of COVID-19 in the community. Two cases were possibly traced to campers passing infections to others at camp, and the majority were infected outside of camp.

Researchers noted the study used data gathered before the larger, second wave of infections after the holidays. Additionally, testing for COVID-19 in the first months of the pandemic was limited to people with symptoms, so potential cases of asymptomatic infection were not identified.

Brittany Howard

Brittany is the editor of Community Rec Magazine. Reach her at brittany@peakemedia.com.

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