Health officials concerned about spread of Delta variant at summer camps

Jessica Harrington Image
Friday, July 23, 2021
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Local summer camps said they have safety protocols in place and kids have been able to enjoy their summer outdoors learning and playing.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County health officials are expressing growing concern over summer camp for kids.

That's because health departments are starting to see more children contracting the Delta variant.

Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra stopped short of calling cases at one Fresno County summer camp an outbreak.

Other local summer camps said they have safety protocols in place and kids have been able to enjoy their summer outdoors learning and playing.

"Everybody has lived with this for a year, so we all kind of know what to do and it's going really well," said San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust Executive Director Sharon Weaver.

Weaver said multiple COVID-19 safety protocols have been in place at River Camp.

The week-long, day camp caters to kids Pre-K through high school.

To keep everyone safe, organizers have implemented social distancing, extra sanitation and reduced the number of kids allowed at the day camp, along with splitting them up into cohorts.

"That allows us to keep the kids in consistent groups and so they stay primarily with their own group of kids throughout the whole week," said Weaver.

Weaver said they haven't faced many issues with COVID this year, but that's not the case everywhere.

Dr. Rais Vohra said the Fresno County Health Department was made aware of positive COVID cases at Hume Lake Christian Camp.

He said the health department is working with the organization on best practices.

Hume Lake Christian Camp wouldn't confirm the positive cases, but issued a statement to Action News saying the camp requires proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test within three days of attending camp.

"Anyone who arrives without proof of a test or vaccination is tested before entering into camp. Our first priority is protecting our campers and staff; therefore, we have engaged protocols to assess and reduce potential spread. Should anyone test positive at Hume Lake, the individuals are isolated, under the guidance of our medical response team, and sent home to recover and seek appropriate medical attention. We then initiate contact tracing by a team of trained professionals to identify people who may have been exposed to the positive campers, and those individuals would be sent home per our protocols.
We would also perform targeted cleaning and disinfecting of the areas in which the positive individuals had recently been, in addition to our already-enhanced cleaning procedures. Temperature screening, the wearing of masks where appropriate, hand hygiene, coughing/sneezing etiquette, and other protective measures already in place will remain and be strictly enforced for our campers' and staff's protection.
As these situations are constantly evolving, we evaluate daily and weekly about the wisest and safest way to proceed."

"I really do worry about summer camp in general," said Dr. Vohra.

Dr. Vorha said they are seeing more young people getting Delta infections.

Having a large number of kids together at a summer camp just adds to the risk.

"This is where you know kids are going to congregate, perhaps be unmasked and doing activities in close proximity with each other," said Dr. Vohra.

He said it's up to summer camps to follow the guidance from the public health department and parents to keep their kids home when they're not feeling well.

"Those guidelines are made for a reason. Now that this Delta variant is showing up in more and more places, it's going to be all the more important to keep kids as safe as possible," Dr. Vohra said.

Dr. Vohra said he's predicting an uptick in COVID cases in school children when they return in the fall, even with masks.

He said that's why the masking protocols are put in place and said it will take a collective effort to keep kids out of danger as much as possible.