A coronavirus outbreak was ravaged this summer at a high school retreat in Wisconsin this summer, with a college student infecting 91 percent – or 116 – of students and counselors.
The astonishing outbreak was discussed at a new Center for Disease Prevention and Control study published on Thursday.
The ‘superspreading’ event took place during a faith-based educational retreat for high school boys in grades nine to eleven, which took place between July 2 and August 11.
The retreat included 152 boys, counselors and staff who came from 21 states and territories and two other countries. Each person had to test and quarantine the week prior to camp.
But a ninth grader, who had tested negative at home, began developing symptoms shortly after his arrival.
The teen was given a PCR test that came back positive.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that an outbreak occurred in Wisconsin this summer during a faith-based overnight stay.
CityHealth Urgent Care Medical Assistants Leilany McClure (left) and Aria Alokozai (right) mop two Oakland Airport Fire Rescue employees
Soon, the virus would tear through the retreat, as precautions fell by the wayside.
While all retreat participants were required to wear face masks while traveling to camp in Wisconsin, they were allowed to ignore mask suggestions and mingle freely.
Some students slept four to six in dormitories, while others slept eight in yurts. The 21 counselors stayed in similar small rooms in dormitories or yurts.
After the positive diagnosis of the ninth student, he and eleven of his closest contacts in the camp were quarantined. All 11 contacts tested negative by rapid antigen testing and were released from quarantine.
However, during the first week of the camp, six of the 11 boys – plus 18 others – said they had mild symptoms.
Those students were given face masks but were not placed in isolation from others and continued to spread the virus unknowingly.
Retreats administrators did not conduct contact tracking, making the outbreak much more vigorous.
According to the CDC, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services was notified of the outbreak in question on July 25.
Three days later, department officials tested 148 of the 152 in attendance to find that 91 percent of them had contracted the infection during the retreat.
The count excluded 24 students who had proven through antibody tests that they were already infected and recovered.
And there were no positive diagnoses from the teachers present, who practiced social detachment, wore face masks, and were separated from students and counselors.
No deaths or hospitalizations were reported in relation to the outbreak.
Now the CDC has reiterated the importance of mitigation efforts after a school-age outbreak.
“SARS-CoV-2 can spread quickly among adolescents and young adults in a common setting with insufficient COVID-19 mitigation measures,” officials wrote.
“A robust COVID-19 mitigation plan, developed in conjunction with public health authorities, is important to prevent and control similar outbreaks in overnight camps and residential schools.”
Pictured: A CDC image shows the dates of symptom onset for cases at the Wisconsin retreat
A medical professional applies a nasal swab while testing at the Orange County Health Services Covid-19 drive-thru site in Barnett Park in Orlando, Florida
The CDC study noted that a silver lining in the outbreak was the possible link between antibodies and coronavirus.
A key feature of this outbreak was that 24 attendees had documented evidence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 prior to arrival. None of these individuals received a positive SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test result during the retreat, ” the study read.
“These findings provide preliminary evidence that detectable antibodies can protect against new SARS-CoV-2 infections for an unknown duration.”
The agency still warned that more research needs to be done on the link and that “ evidence so far is insufficient. ”
Wisconsin has recorded the eleventh highest number of coronavirus cases with 227,000 infections and just over 2,000 deaths.
The United States has reported more than 8.9 million infections and 228,600 deaths since the first outbreak was announced in January.