COVID-19 strategies resulted in ‘almost zero’ infections at summer camps, CDC says

Overnight camps that followed strategies aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 were quite successful this summer, according to a study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC analyzed 7,173 campers and staff members at nine overnight camps from June to August. Only nine laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 occurred. And none of those cases resulted in reinfections.

"The findings in this study confirm that multi-layered prevention strategies (for example, frequent screening testing, masking, physical distancing, and activity modification) help reduce the risk of introducing and spreading COVID-19 in youth summer camp settings," the report’s lead scientist Dr. Sarah Lee told FOX News. "Additionally, with high vaccination rates among eligible staff and campers, these camps were well prepared to prevent COVID-19."

The camps worked with the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Camp Association as well as state and local departments to design protocols specific to their individual site.

All camps required their attendees to wear masks and practice social distancing for two weeks prior to their arrival. Once they arrived, they had to produce a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken no more than three days beforehand.

The camps encouraged all eligible participants to be vaccinated but did not require it. Thirty percent of the campers were younger than 12, meaning they didn’t qualify for the vaccine.

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They, along with any other unvaccinated participants, were subjected to COVID-19 tests every day for 12 days. The CDC said the camps conducted more than 38,000 tests. Only 21 came back positive and 15 were later determined to be false positives.

Three additional symptomatic cases were later identified, bringing the total to nine out of more than 7,100 participants.

"Implementation of high vaccination coverage coupled with multiple prevention strategies is critical to averting COVID-19 outbreaks in congregate settings, including overnight camps," the CDC said. "These findings highlight important guiding principles for school and youth-based COVID-19 prevention protocols."

Staff members and campers were organized into pods. Each pod was the same cabin where residents interacted with their other members without masking or physically distancing, but eventually, camps merged into larger pods, where one pod evolved into multiple cabins.

Camp leaders also maximized outdoor activities, reducing the chances the virus could spread. Meals were staggered, as were indoor and outdoor dining times.

This story was reported from Atlanta.