During the summer months, news of overnight camps grappling with COVID-19 outbreaks was nearly inescapable. However, with the season behind us, some success stories are now gaining attention. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently highlighted four camps in Maine that successfully operated with almost no COVID-19 infections.
How They Did It
The CDC reported that the four camps ran between the months of June and August. They brought in a combined attendance of 642 kids and 380 staff from 41 states and 6 international locations. By the end of the summer, only three COVID-19 cases had been detected.
A new @CDCMMWR shows a series of steps helped prevent #COVID19 outbreaks at 4 overnight camps in Maine this summer. Steps included screening campers & staff before arrival, wearing facial coverings, and staying in the same groups for 2 weeks. Learn more: https://t.co/arBMMmQKKh. pic.twitter.com/qW4xhV4U4i— CDC (@CDCgov) August 26, 2020
According to the report, the camps avoided major COVID-19 outbreaks by adopting a strict regimen of safety precautions. The agency referred to theses precautionary measures as “nonpharmaceutical interventions” (NPIs). The NPIs included quarantining and distancing employed in stages before, during, and after the camp term.
Before arriving at the camp, attendees were first required to quarantine with family for 10-14 days. In the week leading up to camp, 1,010 of the attendees were tested at FDA-approved sites. At that time, four potential cases were detected, reports News Center Maine. The camps delayed arrival for these attendees, who showed no symptoms, for a further 10 days.
At the start of the camp, attendees were divided up into groups. These “cohorts” remained effectively quarantined from one another for the first 2 weeks of camp. Counselors administered daily symptom checks, which turned up a total of 12 possible cases. The camps isolated and tests the 12 attendees, while also isolating their cohorts from the others. All 12 campers ended up testing negative.
The camps also re-tested all campers 5-6 days after arrival. This round of testing turned up three positive cases, which were immediately quarantined until a negative result could be produced. All three eventually tested negative, while their quarantined cohorts ultimately showed no signs of secondary infection.
In addition to these quarantine measures, attendees received instruction on hygiene measures like cough and sneeze etiquette, the report said. Camps also enforced strict hand-washing, requiring it after all activities, meals, and other “high-touch interactions.”
A Variety Of Measures
All in all, the report concludes, the camp succeeded thanks to adopting and enforcing a wide variety of NPIs.
“Although no single intervention can prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission, a multilayered use of NPIs allowed camps to prevent transmission and quickly identify campers or staff members with SARS-CoV-2 infection to successfully mitigate the spread,” the report read.
According to CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the results illustrate how following health guidelines can help speed up a return to normalcy.
“Using a combination of proven public health strategies, to slow the spread of COVID-19, campers and staff were able to enjoy a traditional summer pastime amid a global pandemic,” he said. “As communities work together to get us back to where we used to be it is essential that everyone — for their own good and that of their [families] — follow CDC and the federal government’s recommendations against COVID-19.”