In fact, health officials said they are seeing outbreaks each week at camps, including asymptomatic and symptomatic cases.
Aislynn Toman-Hill, the public information officer for the Utah County Health Department, said most of the camps that are seeing outbreaks don’t have specific protocols like testing campers before they arrive. With no COVID-19 public health orders in place in Utah, the department said their hands are tied in enforcing rules and regulations.
“This is really just perhaps a glimpse of what’s to come for the school year…which if that’s the case, is very concerning,” Toman-Hill said.
Toman-Hill said there are hundreds of youth camps going on weekly in Utah County.
“One week we were looking at at least 10 different camps where we had positive cases. We know that this is not all…we know there’s more out there,” Toman-Hill said.
The Utah County Health Department couldn’t tell ABC4 News exactly which summer camps are contributing to the rise in cases. However, officials said a lot of them are happening at overnight camps that don’t have COVID-19 protocols in place.
“We don’t have a public health order in place right now that provides for kind of regulation and things that can and cannot be done…so that’s one of the struggles that all of us in public health are up against,” Toman-Hill said.
She said there’s a combination of kids becoming symptomatic while they’re at the camp, and parents are sending their kids to camp while they’re waiting for test results on another family member.
While health officials encourage camps to put testing requirements in place, Toman-Hill said, for the most part, it’s not happening.
“For those organizations and groups that are hosting youth camps, we’re asking that you work with us as much as possible,” Toman-Hill said.
However, COVID-19 outbreaks at summer camps aren’t happening in every county. For example, Salt Lake County has only seen a few cases associated with summer camps but no outbreaks.
“Since we haven’t seen many cases…that’s a sign hopefully that people are taking precautions, they’re mitigating exposure, they’re staying further apart and they’re doing things outside,” Ilene Risk, epidemiology bureau manager at Salt Lake County Health Department, said. With school right around the corner, she’s hoping it stays this way.
In the meantime, parents are encouraged to get students and campers vaccinated. If your child attended a camp and is showing symptoms, you’re asked to get them tested immediately.