How 4 summer season camps in Maine prevented COVID-19 outbreaks

Because the coronavirus hit communities throughout america over the summer season, 4 in a single day camps in Maine efficiently saved the virus at bay.

Of 1,022 individuals who attended the summer season camps, which included campers and employees members, solely three individuals examined constructive for COVID-19, researchers report August 26 within the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. That’s as a result of the individuals who got here to Maine from 41 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, Bermuda and 5 different international locations diligently adopted public well being measures put in place to cease transmission, the staff says.

The camps’ success, in addition to others together with baby care applications in Rhode Island that restricted coronavirus transmission, might level to a path ahead for locations like colleges which might be reopening with in-person courses within the face of the continuing pandemic, although challenges stay.

On the camps, a mix of testing, social bubbles, social distancing, masks, quarantine and isolation prevented outbreaks.

Earlier than arriving at camp, officers instructed all 642 kids and 380 employees members to quarantine with their households for 10 to 14 days. Attendees had been additionally examined for COVID-19 5 to seven days previous to arrival — except for 12 individuals who had already been beforehand recognized. 4 individuals examined constructive for the virus and remoted for 10 days at residence earlier than heading off to one of many camps, which had been in session at completely different instances from mid-June to mid-August. (Three of the 4 camps ran for lower than 50 days and the opposite went on for 62 days.)

As soon as on website, the campers and employees participated in each day symptom checks and actions held largely outdoor. In addition they frolicked in small “bubbles,” or cohorts, that ranged from 5 to 44 individuals in measurement and have become like household in the course of the weeks at camp, the researchers say. If individuals interacted with anybody exterior their group, masks and social distancing had been required.

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“We needed to provide the children the flexibility to have a household unit at camp that they didn’t have to be masked or social distanced from,” says Laura Blaisdell, a pediatrician at Maine Medical Middle Analysis Institute in Scarborough who labored on the brand new report.

Attendees got here to Maine by way of automobile, bus and aircraft, and will have been uncovered to the virus after their preliminary check, so officers retested the 1,006 attendees who had by no means had COVID-19 4 to 9 days after their arrival.

In that spherical of testing, two employees members and one camper from three completely different camps examined constructive however by no means developed signs. Their cohorts had been quarantined for 2 weeks, however nonetheless “had been capable of have a camp expertise … and proceed to have enjoyable and play collectively,” Blaisdell says. The three constructive circumstances didn’t transmit the virus to anybody else earlier than they had been recognized. They every remained remoted till that they had two unfavorable check outcomes.

Off to camp

Greater than 1,000 individuals from 41 U.S. states, in addition to Puerto Rico, Bermuda and several other different international locations, attended summer season camps in Maine from mid-June to mid-August. The map proven right here signifies which states campers and employees members got here from. (Nobody attended from states coloured white.) A good variety of individuals traveled from states like Texas and Florida that had been hit arduous over the summer season (seven-day each day common price of coronavirus an infection as calculated on July 1, proven), however the camps’ public well being measures prevented outbreaks. States with lower than 10 circumstances per 100,000 inhabitants are usually not designated.

Camp inhabitants, by residence state, and states’ COVID-19 an infection charges

L.L. Blaisdell et al/MMWR 2020

L.L. Blaisdell et al/MMWR 2020

Some individuals traveled to Maine from areas the place COVID-19 circumstances had been surging over the summer season, together with Texas, Arizona and Florida. However rigorous testing rapidly recognized potential spreaders, and small cohorts allowed officers to rapidly establish these most susceptible to catching the virus.

In that approach, “cohorting is an unsung hero of public well being intervention,” Blaisdell says. 

Whereas interventions like cohorts, social distancing and sporting masks might help cut back coronavirus transmission on their very own to some extent, every technique has limitations. Combining such methods right into a layered strategy the place individuals comply with a number of pointers to curb the virus’ unfold, just like the Maine camps did, can additional defend the members of a neighborhood.

“Each public well being layer is sort of a layer of Swiss cheese with a gap in it,” Blaisdell says. It’s the stacking of “a number of layers of cheese on high of one another that shut these holes and makes for a sturdy [infectious] illness plan.”

Against this, a summer season camp in Georgia confronted an outbreak of the virus even after requiring attendees to supply proof of a unfavorable check earlier than arrival. However there, campers weren’t required to put on masks, weren’t examined after they arrived at camp and took part in each indoor and out of doors actions (SN: 7/31/20).

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Nonetheless, the remoted nature of the summer season camps in Maine seemingly made creating a comparatively COVID-19–free bubble a lot simpler than it is likely to be at Okay–12 colleges or universities across the nation, the place individuals come and go and should not stay on website (SN: 8/4/20). There have been some employees members on the 4 camps in Maine who went residence on daily basis, however these individuals had been required to put on masks always and social distance from different attendees. It additionally seemingly helped that the quantity of coronavirus circulating in Maine was fairly low whereas the camps had been operating.

What’s extra, the bigger the varsity, the more durable it’s going to most likely be to make it possible for public well being interventions are being adhered to. “If you happen to comply with the principles, then this could completely achieve success,” says Brian Nichols, a virologist at Seton Corridor College in South Orange, N.J. However, “once you scale it up and begin taking a look at public colleges and universities, you simply should plan on the truth that some individuals aren’t going to comply with the principles.”

Nonetheless, the success in Maine hints that containing the virus is feasible with a focused, layered strategy, Blaisdell says. “As colleges and faculties start to think about opening, they want to have a look at their neighborhood as a bubble,” she says. “All of us have to be making contracts with one another concerning the behaviors that we’re going to do.” 

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