Nearly 100 COVID-19 cases linked to Illinois summer camp, officials say

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Nearly 100 cases of coronavirus have been linked to a camp in Illinois where indoor masking was not required and vaccination status was not checked, officials said Monday, adding that one unvaccinated young adult required hospitalization. 

The majority of 85 cases involved teens who attended the mid-June camp session, although some involved adult staff members. 

Eleven additional cases were reported after several individuals who were at the camp also attended a nearby conference, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said. Among those cases, 70% occurred in unvaccinated people. 

The cases are concentrated in Schuyler and Adams counties, according to a press release. 

“Although all campers and staff were eligible for vaccination, IDPH is aware of only a handful of campers and staff receiving the vaccine,” the IDPH said. “The camp was not checking vaccination status and masking was not required while indoors. IDPH is reminding people about the importance of vaccination, including youth, as the Delta variant and other variants continue to spread.” 

The department director emphasized that while risk to children may seem small, “even a mild case” can result in long-term health issues. 

“Additionally, 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,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. 

The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance regarding summer camp that includes recommended vaccines for everyone 12 and older. It also states that camps, where everyone is fully vaccinated prior to the start of the session, can return to full capacity without masking or social distancing, but those where some are not vaccinated should implement multiple prevention strategies. 

The IDPH is working with the CDC and has sent specimens for genomic sequencing. 

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