At least 75 COVID-19 cases in 17 states have been linked to a Christian summer camp in North Carolina.
The outbreak is linked to campers and staff who attended The Wilds between June 28 and July 17.
Only four of the infected live in Transylvania County, where the camp is located, 130 miles west of Charlotte.
In North Carolina, the number of cases has risen 193 percent in the past two weeks, according to the New York Times.
The Wilds is now asking campers to get tested for Covid before arriving for a session.
The outbreak joins a growing number of superspreading events in summer camps, linked to unvaccinated children and staff.
At least 75 Covid cases have been linked to The Wilds, a Christian summer camp in North Carolina. Pictured: Playing in the camp earlier in July
Statement from The Wilds on the camp’s Covid security measures
With the super-contagious Indian ‘Delta’ variety spreading across the US, activities that were once considered relatively safe — like having fun outdoors at a summer camp — are now more risky.
About 60 percent of American adults are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, but the number for adolescents is much lower and children under 12 are not yet eligible.
These unvaccinated children and teenagers are vulnerable to the Delta variant. The variant spreads faster than previous strains of the coronavirus – and can easily cause superspreading events.
A recent outbreak at a summer camp in North Carolina could be an example of such a superspreading event.
At least 75 cases have been linked to The Wilds, a Christian summer camp in the state’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
This camp offers sessions for children as well as adults and families, with a focus on understanding the Bible and helping campers achieve spiritual growth.
The outbreak involves campers and staff who attended The Wilds between June 28 and July 17, although the investigation into this spread is still ongoing.
Though it originated in North Carolina, the outbreak has now spread to 17 states, though the camp has not revealed which states.
The Wilds attracted campers from many states outside of North Carolina who brought the virus to their communities.
Of the more than 75 cases linked to the camp, only four live in Transylvania, where the camp is located, according to the provincial public health department.
The camp canceled its July 19 session after the outbreak was identified, according to Asheville ABC affiliate WLOS.
Summer camps like The Wilds have become Covid hotspots in recent months. Pictured: Campers in The Wilds, boating on the lake
“This gives us additional opportunities to test and quarantine our entire staff and further decontaminate our facilities,” Susan Burke, a representative for The Wilds, told WLOS.
In future sessions, the camp will ask campers to be tested for Covid before arriving, according to according further coverage from WLOS.
The staff also plans to limit the number of campers on the property.
However, public statements by The Wilds make no mention of vaccine requirements for staff or campers over the age of 12.
“The Wilds will continue to take important precautions this summer to protect our staff and campers from COVID-19,” a statement said. on the camp website say.
“While we’ve had a number of campers and staff this summer who either tested positive or showed symptoms at various points, we plan to continue operating your RV safely for the rest of the summer, as the Lord allows.”
The Wilds also had to close due to Covid outbreaks in July 2020, according to a statement on the camp’s Facebook page.
Summer camps have become Covid hotspots in recent months as Delta spreads across the country.
In June, for example, nearly 100 Covid cases were linked to an Illinois summer camp where masking was not required and vaccination status was not checked.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that camps go maskless only if all campers and staff are fully vaccinated.
Another camp in North Carolina, Camp Daniel Boone in Haywood County, closed completely earlier in July after several campers tested positive.
And 31 children – all under the age of 12 – tested positive for a recent camp outbreak in New York State.
While it’s not known how many cases of these outbreaks were caused by Delta, the variant now causes more than 80 percent of new cases in the country — making it likely that Delta was a culprit for these super-spreading events.