OBJECTIVES:

In late June 2020, a large outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) occurred at a sleep-away youth camp in Georgia, affecting primarily persons ≤21 years. We conducted a retrospective cohort study among campers and staff (attendees) to determine the extent of the outbreak and assess factors contributing to transmission.

METHODS:

Attendees were interviewed to ascertain demographic characteristics, known exposures to COVID-19 and community exposures, and mitigation measures before, during, and after attending camp. COVID-19 case status was determined for all camp attendees on the basis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) test results and reported symptoms. We calculated attack rates and instantaneous reproduction numbers and sequenced SARS-CoV-2 viral genomes from the outbreak.

RESULTS:

Among 627 attendees, the median age was 15 years (interquartile range: 12–16 years); 56% (351 of 627) of attendees were female. The attack rate was 56% (351 of 627) among all attendees. On the basis of date of illness onset or first positive test result on a specimen collected, 12 case patients were infected before arriving at camp and 339 case patients were camp associated. Among 288 case patients with available symptom information, 45 (16%) were asymptomatic. Despite cohorting, 50% of attendees reported direct contact with people outside their cabin cohort. On the first day of camp session, the instantaneous reproduction number was 10. Viral genomic diversity was low.

CONCLUSIONS:

Few introductions of SARS-CoV-2 into a youth congregate setting resulted in a large outbreak. Testing strategies should be combined with prearrival quarantine, routine symptom monitoring with appropriate isolation and quarantine, cohorting, social distancing, mask wearing, and enhanced disinfection and hand hygiene. Promotion of mitigation measures among younger populations is needed.

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