At least 75 COVID-19 cases across 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 individuals live in Transylvania County, where the camp is located, which is 130 miles west of Charlotte.
In North Carolina, cases have risen by 193 percent in the past two weeks, per the New York Times.
The Wilds is now asking campers to get tested for Covid before they arrive for a session.
The outbreak joins a growing number of superspreading events at 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: Games at the camp earlier in July
Statement from The Wilds on the camp’s Covid safety measures
As the super-contagious Indian ‘Delta’ variant spreads across the U.S., activities once considered relatively safe – like outdoor fun at a summer camp – are now riskier.
About 60 percent of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, but the number for adolescents is much lower and children under 12 aren’t yet eligible.
These unvaccinated kids and teenagers are vulnerable to the Delta variant. The variant spreads faster than previous strains of the coronavirus – and can easily cause superspreading events.
One recent outbreak at a summer camp in North Carolina may 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 attain spiritual growth.
The outbreak includes campers and staff who attended The Wilds between June 28 and July 17, though investigation into this spread is still ongoing.
While it originated in North Carolina, the outbreak has now spread to 17 states, although the camp has not revealed which states.
The Wilds attracted campers from many states outside of North Carolina who brought the virus home to their communities.
Out of the 75-plus cases tied to the camp, only four individuals live in Transylvania County, where the camp is located, according to the county 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 at The Wilds, boating on the lake
‘This is going to give us additional opportunities to test and quarantine our entire staff and further sanitize our facilities,’ Susan Burke, a representative of The Wilds, told WLOS.
In future sessions, the camp will ask campers to get tested for Covid before they arrive, according to further reporting from WLOS.
The staff are also planning to limit the number of campers on-site.
However, public statements from The Wilds make no mention of vaccine requirements for staff or campers over age 12.
‘The Wilds will continue to take significant precautions to protect our staff and campers from COVID-19 this summer,’ a statement on the camp’s website says.
‘While we have had some campers and staff either test positive or exhibit symptoms at different points this summer, we plan to continue to safely serve your camper through the remainder of the summer as the Lord allows.’
The Wilds also had to close down due to Covid outbreaks in July 2020, per a statement on the camp’s Facebook page.
Summer camps have become Covid hotspots in recent months as Delta spreads through the country.
In June, for example, almost 100 Covid cases were linked to an Illinois summer camp where masking wasn’t required and vaccination status was not checked.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that camps only go mask-less if all campers and staff are fully vaccinated.
Another North Carolina camp, Camp Daniel Boone in Haywood County, closed entirely earlier in July after several campers tested positive.
And 31 children – all under age 12 – tested positive at a recent camp outbreak in upstate New York.
While it is unknown how many cases in these outbreaks were caused by Delta, the variant is now causing more than 80 percent of new cases in the country – making it likely that Delta was a culprit for these superspreading events.