What experts suggest you do after hundreds exposed during COVID outbreak at ministry camp

Tuesday, July 6, 2021
How to keep your child COVID-free at summer camp
Summer activities have begun! But if you're concerned about how to keep your child from a COVID-free summer, here's what experts advise.

LEAGUE CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- Clear Creek Community Church in League City canceled in-person events this week after reporting an outbreak of COVID-19 during their student ministry camp.

Galveston County Health Authority Dr. Philip Kaiser said they have confirmed at least 42 positive cases from Galveston County residents who attended the camp, but lead Pastor Bruce Wesley says more than 125 members have reported positive cases.

The church reportedly rented campgrounds outside of Galveston County exclusively for more than 450 adults and youths from sixth through 12th grade.

SEE ALSO: COVID-19 outbreak reported among Galveston Co. church members after camp

Galveston County is now investigating the outbreak to determine if the Delta variant sparked the mass infection.

"We're testing it for the Delta variant to see if that's the cause for it spreading so rapidly among that group," said Kaiser.

Among the infections, Kaiser said there are breakthrough cases where vaccinated people contracted the virus.

"It's a good cautionary tale for other churches that are considering having get-togethers. You know, be careful, particularly, when you're getting together kids, most of whom haven't been vaccinated yet because they're not old enough," said Dr. Kaiser.

Children 11 and younger are still not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S.

SEE ALSO: COVID-19 vaccine trials underway in Houston for children under age 2

Dr. Stan Spinner, the chief medical officer and vice president of pediatrics and urgent care at Texas Children's Hospital, said that even though summer camps are back in full swing, the virus still exists.

Spinner said the decision to send an un-vaccinated child to camp depends on the camp and each child. His biggest recommendation is to prioritize small group gatherings.

"Ones that don't have large numbers of kids that are mixing and matching all the time. The ones that kind of keep the group together, would be a little bit less of a risk," Spinner said.

He advises all parents to ask about social distancing and hygiene protocols, if the camp has a plan for a child with COVID symptoms and if all employees are vaccinated.

"You know we're not asking what their religious beliefs are. We're not asking who they voted for in an election. We're asking how protected they are to protect ourselves. I think that's a fair question," said Spinner.

Outdoor camps are safer than indoor camps, day camps are safer than sleepaway camps and small groups are safer than larger crowds.

"It's all what that risk-benefit ratio is for your child," said Spinner. "If your child really enjoys camp, but they missed out on a lot that last year and a half. So I think it's relatively safe."

Clear Creek Community Church posted this letter to their website from Wesley.

Dear Church Family,

Sunday services at CCCC campuses are canceled for Sunday, July 4 and Wednesday, July 7 due to a significant number of people testing positive for COVID-19 after returning from camp.

Our recent Student Ministry Camp was a wonderful experience with many of our students placing their faith in Jesus and growing in their faith. More than 400 people participated in our Camp Creek (6th grade - 12th grade) last week, the reports are enthusiastically positive.

Unfortunately, upon return from camp, 125+ campers and adults reported to us that they tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, hundreds more were exposed to COVID-19 at camp. And hundreds of others were likely exposed when infected people returned home from camp. We seek to remain in contact with those impacted. If you, or someone in your family, begins to have symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately.

In cooperation with the Galveston County Health District, we decided to cancel services and to issue a press release. We anticipate that services will resume Sunday, July 11

From the beginning of the pandemic, we have sought to love our neighbors by practicing strict safety protocols. We are surprised and saddened by this turn of events. Our hearts break for those infected with the virus. Please pray for a speedy and complete recovery for all of those affected

Messages left with the church were not immediately returned.