Catskills Summer Camp Announces Closures After More Than Four Dozen COVID Cases
Stemming off a recent announcement on what is being called the 'worst version' of COVID spreading across New York State, some local kids were unable to attend their summer camp program in the Hudson Valley recently due to the virus.
While the omicron variant is not necessarily new, the omicron subvariant BA.5 is said to be the dominant strain across the U.S., and here in New York State, with health officials calling it the 'worst version' of omicron.
Camp Closure in Sullivan County
Only in its first session of the summer, the Frost Valley YMCA summer camp located in Claryville (Sullivan County) had to shut down two of its campuses early due to COVID spreading at a rapid rate. Both Camp Waywayanda and Camp Henry Hird were closed midway through their first session of the summer.
Jerry Huncosky, Chief Executive Officer from Frost Valley YMCA issued a statement on July 7th, citing that the closures needed to happen due to positive tests during session 1 of camp, and the fact that the counselor-to-camper ratios that are required to operate would no longer be able to be maintained.
While these staff members were all fully vaccinated and boosted and tested negative prior to arrival, on check in day they were tested again and several tested positive. Further testing over the course of the next few days brought the total number to 50 plus positive staff cases and 4 campers at the time of dismissal.
Following the announcement last week, Frost Valley YMCA has adjusted their plan for the rest of the summer, implementing enhanced protocols with it comes to COVID 19 and operations. Some of the changes include:
- Further COVID 19 training for staff
- Encouraging safety protocols for staff during off-time
They also provided clarification regarding their vaccination policies and masking options for staff and campers. The full letter from the camp's CEO, along with the protocols and session updates can be found here.
COVID At Camp, Not An Isolated Incident
With this being the first summer since 2019 where campers are experiencing what we can classify as more of a traditional, or normal camp experience, outbreaks and COVID impacts are happening both nationally and internationally. The Gothamist reports several other camps had to close early, even one shutting down for an entire week, due to positive cases among staff and campers. One camper at a Bronx-based summer camp only attended one week of camp before testing positive for COVID.
Here in the Hudson Valley, my daughter made it through 11 days of her Dutchess County-based camp before I received the first call from a counselor citing a direct exposure from one of the campers in her group. So far, she has tested negative after the exposure.
The New York State Department of Health issued a 'best practice guide' for children's summer camps back in June, the link to that guidance can be found here.