MINNEAPOLIS — Summer youth camps can play an important role in children’s lives. “Promote mental health as well and get out to have normal experiences as a kids and get back to school in the fall,” said Dr. Madeleine Gagnon, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare’s Associate Director of Pediatrics.
But nationwide – there have been several reports of COVD 19 outbreaks at children’s camp – as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread. “Certainly, in communities where the vaccination rate is low, we are expecting to see a spike in the delta variant,” said Dr. Gagnon. “The delta variant is thought to be more contagious than previous variants we’ve seen before.”
Dr. Gagnon says it’s important for those who are unvaccinated to follow safety precautions – to limit the spread to those who may be susceptible. “For my own kids, they did inner city Minneapolis tennis camp, and because they were in line and close contact with other kids, they wore a mask,” said Dr. Gagnon.
Last month – more than 130 people self-reported testing positive for COVID-19 at a Texas area church-sponsored summer camp, serving more than 450 adults and teens. Health officials say the delta variant was detected in several of those cases.
In Illinois, the Dept. of Public Health reported 85 teens and adults at a summer youth camp also tested positive for the virus. In that case, health officials said that all campers were eligible for the vaccine, but that they were only aware of a handful of vaccinated campers and staff.
While Dr. Gagnon is encouraging everyone 12 and up to get vaccinated.
“That’s the way to end the pandemic, to help stop the spread,” said Dr. Gagnon.
She’s urging parents to take the necessary steps to help protect campers, staff and their families from COVID-19 exposure.
The Minnesota Department of Health says the department has not seen any outbreaks akin to those described in other parts of the country. MDH continues to recommend programs that follow the COVID-19 Prevention Guidance for Certified Child Care, Youth Programs, and Camps to help prevent transmission among staff and participants in those settings.