A study of a Coronavirus outbreak at an overnight camp in Georgia released on Friday raised fresh questions about the safety of students and staff in U.S. schools, as it showed a large percentage of those between the ages of six and 17 years old being infected.
While not named, the study reportedly covered a virus outbreak at Camp High Harbor, a YMCA camp which saw 260 of 597 campers and staff test positive, fully 44 percent.
The CDC study found the virus “spread efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups, despite efforts by camp officials to implement most recommended strategies to prevent transmission,” the report stated.
"This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection," the CDC added, "and, contrary
to early reports, might play an important role in transmission."
The study also found the “multiple measures adopted by the camp were not sufficient to prevent an outbreak in the context of substantial community transmission.”
The camp had only been open for four days when a staff member tested positive for the Coronavirus; the facility began sending kids home that day, and the camp was closed down three days later.
“Due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, we have made the careful decision to Close YMCA Camp High Harbour for summer 2020,” the camp states on its website.
The study did not examine whether the campers and staffers had gone home and spread the virus to anyone else - one of the main concerns about bringing kids into schools in coming weeks.
The CDC stated those issues will be discussed in a follow up study.
The report came as the head of the Centers for Disease Control told a U.S. House panel on Capitol Hill that it was important to get kids back to school.
“I think it’s important to realize that it’s in the public health best interests of K thru 12 students to get back in face-to-face learning,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, who has backed President Donald Trump’s call for schools to fully re-open, and not depend on remote teaching.
The issue of re-opening schools continues to be a sore point politically between the two parties - and even within the Republican Party, where President Trump has very publicly pressed for schools to be back in session like normal.
“School reopening decisions should be made by local leaders who understand the needs of their communities, not by the federal government,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).