Kansas investigates COVID-19 clusters linked to summer camps

Nation and World

FILE – This Thursday, June 4, 2020 file photo shows a row of cabins at a summer camp in Fayette, Maine. On Friday, May 28, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted guidance saying kids at summer camps can skip wearing masks outdoors, with some exceptions. Children who aren’t fully vaccinated should still wear masks outside when they’re in crowds or in sustained close contact with others – and when they are inside, and fully vaccinated kids need not wear masks indoors or outside, the CDC says. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

TOPEKA, Kan. (WDAF) – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday it is investigating COVID-19 clusters linked to four summer camps.

The camps are located in Overland Park, Topeka, the Wichita area, and La Monte, Missouri.

The largest cluster in the past two weeks was linked to AGK Ministry Camp in Maize, near Wichita. The state health department said there are 13 known cases linked to the camp at the Wheat State Retreat Center over the past 14 days. The KDHE said a total of 23 cases have been reported there since the camp was held in June.

The other camps in question are Christ the King Summer Camp and Early Education Center in Topeka, with nine cases; Moana Camp in Overland Park, with five cases; and West Central Christian Service Camp in La Monte, Missouri with seven cases.

The West Central Camp posted an update on Facebook and said it would welcome campers back to the site Thursday afternoon.

“With camp back in session, we wanted to remind everyone that if you are sick or have shown symptoms of illness, please do not attend or send your child to camp sick or with illness symptoms,” the camp shared in a Facebook post. “We want everyone to be safe and feel safe! We also want to remind everyone that we live in a world with sickness and want to be safe and free from that sickness. Please do not send your child to camp with sickness.”

The West Central Camp said it will begin daily temperature checks for all students and adults. They also plan to implement social distancing at chapel, in bunks and in the dining hall. Organizers are also asking students and adults to wear masks while at camp.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment asks parents to have their children tested for COVID-19, if they attended camp at one of the locations. They also ask parents who’ve sent kids to other camps to watch their children for symptoms.

Texas outbreak tied to summer camp

Kansas is not alone when it comes to summer camps and their role in local COVID-19 outbreaks.

Roughly 150 COVID-19 cases, including at least three positive tests for the delta variant, have been tied to a Texas church camp held in late June.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, we have sought to love our neighbors by practicing strict safety protocols,” Clear Creek Community Church Lead Pastor Bruce Wesley said in a July 3 statement. “We are surprised and saddened by this turn of events. Our hearts break for those infected with the virus.”

The church confirmed that more than 450 people attended the leadership camp.

Dozens of cases tied to Illinois summer camp

In late June, there were at least 85 cases of COVID-19 that resulted from a central Illinois summer camp.

Officials with the state health department said that only a handful of Crossing Camp employees and campers were vaccinated and there were no vaccination status checks nor mask requirements for indoor areas.

The camp postponed the next summer session.

At least 260 sick at Georgia camp

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detailed a large coronavirus outbreak at an overnight camp in Georgia that resulted in 260 sick campers and staffers. Researchers said this seemed to confirm children are susceptible to COVID-19 and have the ability to spread it.

According to the report, the camp in question, which took place at the end of June, had staff wear masks but did not require campers to utilize face coverings. The report said attendees stayed in cabins and took part in both indoor and outdoor activities.

A teenage staff member was the first person to get sick. The staffer left the camp and tested positive the next day. At that point, officials started the process of closing the camp and requested everyone who attended be tested for coronavirus.

The CDC says nearly 600 people attended the camp. Of the 344 people whose test results were reviewed by the CDC, 260 (76%) were positive.

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