According to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two events sponsored by the same organization in Illinois are at the center of a 180-case COVID-19 outbreak in the Midwest.
A five-day church camp and a two-day “men’s conference” held by an unnamed organization in mid-June are at the heart of a widespread outbreak investigated by the CDC.
In all, these events would have exposed more than 1,000 people in four states to the virus.
The outbreak also led to five hospitalizations, although no Covid deaths were associated with the events.
29 breakthrough cases were also discovered, although there were none among the hospitalized patients.
The church camp went from June 14 to June 18. The first participant started feeling COVID-19 symptoms a day before it ended
The men’s conference started the day after the camp ended. Six staffers who contracted Covid in the camp also worked on the conference, although they were not yet aware they had the virus
The Illinois Department of Health contacted the CDC about the outbreak on June 30.
The camp was held from June 13 to 17 and involved teenagers aged 14 to 18.
There were 294 campers and 41 staff in attendance, and there were no requirements for vaccination or a negative test to participate.
Campers slept close together, with 100 campers each in large shared boarding facilities.
On June 16, a day before camp ended, the camper left early after feeling symptoms of the virus, and later tested positive.
Campers and staff were briefed about the RV and tested for the virus.
On June 18, two days later, the conference began.
Six staffers who tested positive for Covid – only they didn’t know yet because they were still waiting for results – worked at that event.
In total, there were 500 attendees and 30 employees at the conference.
Two days after the conclusion, the first participant would test positive for COVID-19.
After everyone in the camp and conference was tested, 122 cases were found among people attending the conference or camp.
A further 58 cases were discovered at both events among people who had close contact with someone who was infected.
About 16 percent of the total cases, of which 29, were breakthrough cases found in fully vaccinated people.
Five people were hospitalized, and all were unvaccinated.
“In this study, most of the reported cases of COVID-19 were found among unvaccinated individuals,” the researchers wrote.
‘However, transfer of [Covid] from vaccinated individuals to unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals is likely to have occurred.
“These vaccine breakthrough cases were identified among camp and conference participants and in individuals exposed to the attendees.”
The researchers also believe that multiple attendees may have brought the virus to the camp, as two different strains have been discovered within the same outbreak — a rarity.
‘Because several’ [Covid] variants of care were identified from the specimens of camp visitors, suggesting multiple introductions of [Covid] to the camp, rather than a single introduction,” they wrote.
As in-person gatherings and camps return this year, health officials still want organizers to take some precautions to prevent the spread of Covid.
The two Illinois events took few precautions — masks weren’t even included in a list of gear campers were allowed to bring — and sparked an outbreak.
However, there are ways to keep these types of events safe.
‘[Outbreaks like this are] strengthening the importance of COVID-19 prevention measures in these camps, including identifying infected individuals through pre-arrival and screening testing programs and consistent implementation of other prevention efforts, including vaccination, masking and physical distancing.”