COVID-19 spreads at Illinois youth summer camp


FILE – This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the spherical coronavirus particles from what was believed to be the first U.S. case of COVID-19. A new analysis of blood samples from 24,000 Americans taken early last year is the latest and largest study to suggest that the coronavirus popped up in the U.S. in December 2019 — weeks before cases were first recognized by health officials. (C.S. Goldsmith, A. Tamin/CDC via AP)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A total of 85 teens and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at a central Illinois summer camp that was held in mid-June.   

One unvaccinated, young adult was hospitalized, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). About a handful of campers and staff had received the vaccine. 

There were no indoor mask requirements at the camp and camp officials did not check vaccination statuses.  

Some people from the camp also attended a nearby conference, which resulted in 11 additional cases, according to IDPH. Approximately 70 percent of those people were unvaccinated.   

IDPH officials want to remind people about the importance of vaccinations, including youth, as COVID-19 variants such as Delta continue to spread. 

“The majority of the 85 COVID-19 cases associated with the youth camp are among teens,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement.   

“The perceived risk to children may seem small, but even a mild case of COVID-19 can cause long-term health issues.”  

Ezike added that, “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.” 

IDPH is assisting local health departments involved in the youth camp and conference outbreaks, as well as working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Testing is being done to determine if any of the cases were caused by variants. 

Information on COVID-19 vaccinations can be found here.  CDC guidance, adopted by IDPH, on operating youth camps can be found here.  

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