Dozens of children under the age of 12 tested positive for COVID-19 at Camp Pontiac as COVID cases rise throughout the country
A sleepaway camp in upstate New York, which has the capacity for up to 550 attendees and 275 staff members, reported that 31 of their campers too young to receive the vaccine tested positive for Coronavirus this week. The outbreak is part of an alarming trend in an uprise in COVID cases in the United States, which many are pinning on the Delta variant, the new Lambda variant, and vaccination rates too low to provide herd immunity.
The COVID outbreak started in the girls’ dormitories, and as soon as nurses saw campers exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19, they decided to administer testing. On July 17, one test came back positive, and five days later on Thursday, July 22, a total of 31 campers were confirmed to have contracted the virus.
All of the children who tested positive were under the age of 12, and therefore, not vaccinated.
According to the camp, about half of the young attendees are under the age of 12 and ineligible for the vaccine. The other half of the camper population is over 12, and Camp Pontiac reported that only four came to the camp unvaccinated. Of the 275 staffers, only three were unvaccinated. It only took seven unvaxxed people — out of the rough total of 875 campers and staffers — to set off this COVID outbreak. None of the camp’s vaccinated campers have tested positive for the virus yet.
Still, the camp has opted not to close and has instead quarantined the 31 children who tested positive along with about 80 other individuals in close contact with them. Fewer than 10 of these isolated campers are from out-of-state. Camp Pontiac notified campers’ families of the outbreak with a letter explaining that the camp “decided to test all unvaccinated campers even though the CDC and the Department of Health do not require that we do so.”
The good news is it seems like all of the infected children are not experiencing extreme cases of COVID and are expected to make full recoveries.
It remains unclear whether or not (and when) children under 12 in the US will be eligible for vaccination. President Joe Biden believes that the Food and Drug Administration will start allowing vaccinations for kids under 12 “soon,” and suggested that students under 12 might have to wear face masks in school come fall.
“We consider the health and welfare of our camp community our number one priority,” the letter continued. “Every camper of course is welcome back after the quarantine period ends and we will happily return or rebate pro rata tuition.”
New York has an average vaccination rate slightly higher than the national average, with about 62% of residents having received one dose and roughly 56% of its citizens fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The United States’ average vaccination rate currently hovers around 49% at full vaccination.