Since the start of the pandemic, researchers have been puzzled by how children are impacted by COVID-19. When the first cases of the virus were reported out of Wuhan, China, it seemed as though children weren’t even being infected. Soon after we learned that children could in fact contract the virus, though were less likely to develop a severe infection as adults. It was then revealed that children could be asymptomatic spreaders of the virus, meaning that they could pass it on to others without ever developing symptoms. As schools across the country are set to reopen—many for in-person instruction—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a new study centering on a super spreader event at a sleepaway camp in Georgia that may make educators and policymakers rethink their strategies.
The report, published by the CDC on Friday, suggests that children of all ages are susceptible to coronavirus and likely spread it to others. It is centered on a virus outbreak that occurred last month in Georgia at a sleepaway camp. Of the 344 campers, who had a median age of 12, and staffers, with a median age of 17, who were tested for the virus, 260 tested positive for the virus —more than three-quarters. “The overall attack rate was 44% (260 of 597), 51% among those aged 6–10 years, 44% among those aged 11–17 years, and 33% among those aged 18–21 years,” the CDC noted.
As far as symptoms, the CDC only had data for 136 people. 36 people reported no symptoms, while 100 children and staff members (74 percent) reported symptoms of fever (65 percent), headache (61 percent) and sore throat (46 percent).
Another scary detail is that the virus spread quickly, with everyone contracting the virus after less than a week at camp—despite the fact that all 597 campers and staff members were forced to prove that they had tested negative for the virus prior to arrival. The report also reveals that while staff members were required to wear masks, the children were not.
“Asymptomatic infection was common and potentially contributed to undetected transmission, as has been previously reported,” the CDC wrote. “This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and, contrary to early reports, might play an important role in transmission.”
The Camp Failed to Adhere to Mitigation Strategies
The CDC was also quick to point out that the camp failed to adhere to the health organizations “mitigation strategies,” noting that campers weren’t required to wear masks, cabins were not aired out, and “daily vigorous singing and shouting” could have exacerbated the spread.
“Physical distancing and consistent and correct use of cloth masks should be emphasized as important strategies for mitigating transmission in congregate settings,” they concluded.
As for yourself, listen to the facts, study your school’s mitigation strategies, and think hard about what to do with (and for) your children. And to avoid catching COVID-19: wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 37 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.
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