A church camp for teenagers and a conference in Illinois have been linked to at least 180 COVID-19 cases, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report, published on Tuesday, confirmed that a five-day overnight church camp for teenagers and a two-day men’s conference sponsored by the same organization were the origins of the outbreak.
The camp was held in June by a church organization with locations in Western Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. Camp officials gave attendees a list of suggested items to bring, but the list did not include masks or other face coverings.
Teens slept in “large, shared boarding facilities,” according to the report, and they traveled to the camp on buses and passenger vans.
One attendee left the camp early on June 16 after feeling ill, experiencing a fever and “respiratory illness,” according to the report. After the camper tested positive for COVID-19, staff members and attendees at the camp were encouraged to get tested for the virus.
However, several camp staff members traveled to the men’s conference before they received their test results. Six of them later discovered that they tested positive for the virus.
Neither the camp nor the conference required attendees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or test negative for the virus. As of Aug. 13, 180 attendees of the camp and conference and their contacts either tested positive for COVID-19 or had probable cases of the disease.
The CDC confirmed that, of the individuals who attended either the camp or the conference and tested positive for the virus, 18 were fully vaccinated.
No deaths have been reported among the individuals who caught the virus, but five people have been hospitalized. None of the fully vaccinated people who tested positive for the virus were hospitalized.
“This investigation underscores the impact of secondary SARS-CoV-2 transmission during large events, such as camps and conferences, when COVID-19 prevention strategies are not implemented,” the CDC report stated.
The camp identified in the report isn’t the first church summer camp that has contributed to the spread of multiple COVID-19 cases. Clear Creek Community Church in League City, Texas, confirmed earlier this year that more than 125 attendees of their summer camp tested positive for coronavirus.
Dr. Philip Keiser, the local health authority for Galveston County, Texas, said the summer camp’s outbreak was a reminder that “COVID-19 is still here, and we have to take precautions.”
“If you’re old enough to get vaccinated and haven’t, now is the time. These vaccines are safe and offer the best protection against COVID-19 to you, your family and your community,” he said.
USA TODAY has reached out to The Crossing church for comment.