A summer camp in Manchester shut down Wednesday after two positive cases of COVID-19 were reported among its staff, according to a statement on the camp’s website.
River Valley Ranch’s camp discovered the cases after routine weekly testing, according to the statement. The staff members who tested positive did not have severe symptoms ― one had none and the other had mild symptoms.
The camp is requiring staff members who were exposed to quarantine. With staff out, camp sessions were canceled through next week and will tentatively restart July 25, according to the website.
“The safety of our campers, their families and our staff is always our highest priority. This only applies to overnight camps, and does include both Fort Roller and Frontier Town. Day Camp, which is being held off-site, will continue as planned,” the statement on the camp’s website says.
There were no vaccine requirements for staff or campers, according to a camp release, but the camp asked for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result for campers.
There are very few employers in the county requiring staff to be vaccinated, Carroll County Health Officer Ed Singer told Carroll County Times on Thursday.
“This may change as vaccine approval shifts from an emergency use authorization to a full FDA approval,” Singer said.
While Singer said he does not know of any other COVID-19 cases in local summer camps, he is not surprised by River Valley Ranch.
“The COVID-19 virus is still present, including the new variants, and primarily spreading in unvaccinated populations, including children and younger adults,” he said.
Singer expressed concern about the camp and potential spread of COVID-19 at the Carroll County Board of Education’s Wednesday meeting.
“The more people we get vaccinated and the quicker we put this behind us, the quicker we can be done with it,” Singer said at the meeting. “I want it to be done right now.”
Singer said he is concerned about the more transmissible delta variant and continued to encourage people to get vaccinated. He also noted that kids under the age of 12 are not yet able to receive a vaccine and how that affects gatherings among that age level.
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”It’s tough to still have a part of the population that can’t be vaccinated,” he said.
As of Tuesday, there had been seven new community cases of COVID-19 in Carroll County this week, according to the county health department. There were 10 new community cases reported the week that started with July 4 and only three the week that started June 27.
Over the past week, there’s been an uptick in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations throughout the state. Maryland health department reported 178 new cases Thursday and four new deaths.
Singer said 49% of people between the ages of 12 and 17 in Carroll are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Large gatherings of unvaccinated people can increase the spread of COVID-19, Singer said Thursday. After a year of social isolation, parents must weigh the potential risks and benefits of a camp for children, he said.
“Vaccination is the best way to prevent illness from COVID-19 in eligible populations,” Singer said.
Carroll County Times reporter Kristen Griffith contributed to this article.