One Kid Tests Negative Before Camp Then Infects 116 People

This is why face masks and social distancing, not just testing, are vital

Robert Roy Britt
Medium Coronavirus Blog
3 min readOct 30, 2020

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Photo by Cara Fuller on Unsplash

During an overnight summer school retreat in Wisconsin that started July 2, an outbreak of Covid-19 initiated by one boy—who had tested negative for the virus before camp started—ultimately infected dozens of people, according to a case study announced today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Masks and social distancing were not required at the camp.

It is one of several documented superspreader events that illustrate how easily the coronavirus can get around and the difficulty in knowing who might spread it. It also serves as a reminder that a negative Covid-19 test can be accurate only on the day it’s administered.

“Testing, like every other Covid-control strategy, is just part of what’s needed,” Tom Frieden, MD, former director of the CDC, tweeted in reaction to the outbreak. “Whether it’s a school retreat or a White House ceremony, relying on testing to replace safety measures will backfire.”

There were 152 high-school boys from 21 states and territories and two other countries at the camp. All were required to provide documents showing they’d had Covid-19 previously, and thus were presumably no longer infectious, or they’d…

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Robert Roy Britt
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB