SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — State health officials are reporting 85 teenagers and adult staff members at a summer youth camp have tested positive for COVID-19.
A press release from the Illinois Department of Public Health says an unvaccinated young adult was hospitalized.
Although everyone attending the camp were eligible to get the vaccine, IDPH says only a handful of campers and staff got vaccinated. The state health agency adds that camp staff were not checking vaccination status and they were not requiring face-mask use.
“IDPH is reminding people about the importance of vaccination, including youth, as the Delta variant and other variants continue to spread,” says the release.
“The majority of the 85 COVID-19 cases associated with the youth camp are among teens,” says IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “The perceived risk to children may seem small, but even a mild case of COVID-19 can cause long-term health issues. Additionally, infected youth who may not experience severe illness can still spread the virus to others, including those who are too young to be vaccinated or those who don’t build the strong expected immune response to the vaccine.”
IDPH says a few people who were at the camp also went to a nearby conference. That resulted in 11 more cases, per the report. It says over two-thirds of those were cases were for unvaccinated people.
Health officials say vaccines allowed in the U.S. have been shown to be effective among fully vaccinated people, including more spreadable and serious variants.
IDPH says the camp outbreaks happened in Schuyler and Adams counties, where around 40% of their populations are fully vaccinated.
“IDPH continues to assist local health departments involved in the youth camp and conference outbreaks and is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” says the release. “Specimens are being sought for genomic sequencing to determine if any of the cases were caused by variants.”
Information about where to get a COVID-19 vaccination can be found at https://www.vaccines.gov. CDC guidance adopted by IDPH for operating youth camps can be found at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/operating-youth-camps.