COVID-19 outbreak traced to camp
Nearly 100 COVID-19 cases have resulted from an outbreak at a summer youth camp in west central Illinois, mostly involving unvaccinated people, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported Monday.
So far, 85 campers and adult staff members with Crossing Camp in Rushville have contracted the virus. Eleven additional COVID-19 cases occurred when a couple of camp participants attended a conference nearby in mid-June.
All campers and adults were eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations, but "only a handful" got shots, the IDPH said.
Organizers at the camp, in Schuyler County, did not check if participants or staff members were vaccinated, and masks were not required for indoor activities, the IDPH reported.
Crossing Camp administrators did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Herald on Monday.
The news comes as concerns rise about the highly infectious Delta strain of COVID-19, which makes up more than 20% of new cases in the U.S., federal experts said.
The majority of people infected in Rushville were campers, IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said, and one teenager was hospitalized.
"The perceived risk to children may seem small, but even a mild case of COVID-19 can still cause long-term health issues," Ezike said in a statement. "Infected youth, who may not experience severe illness, can still spread the virus to others, including those who are too young to be vaccinated or those who don't build the strong, expected immune response to the vaccine."
On Friday, the state initially reported more than 50 camp-related infections. The exposures occurred June 13-17.
"It's an example of a community with low vaccination rates and not following social distancing and masking, and that's where you see the outbreak," said Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, Edward Hospital's medical director of infection control and prevention.
The IDPH plans tests to trace if any of the cases were caused by variants.
The Delta variant is 60% more contagious than the highly transmissible Alpha strain that originated in the United Kingdom, Pinsky said. The Alpha variant is the most common one across the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control said.
COVID-19 vaccines have not been approved yet for children 11 and younger, which is why it's crucial for kids to mask and social distance when indoors with the pandemic still a threat, CDC experts said.