One Kid Tests Negative Before Camp Then Infects 116 People
This is why face masks and social distancing, not just testing, are vital
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 been tested for the disease in the seven days before arrival. Classes were held outdoors, but the students were not required to wear masks or social distance outside or indoors. They stayed in dorms with four to six in a room or eight in a yurt.
Students were not tested for the virus upon arrival.
The boy determined to be the “index patient” had a negative Covid-19 PCR test within a week of the retreat’s start. On Day 2 of the retreat, he developed a sore throat, cough, and chills, the CDC reports. He tested positive for Covid-19 two days later, on July 5, and it appears he had contracted the virus from a family member before traveling to the retreat.
The CDC tells the story:
He was isolated in a private room, and 11 of his close contacts (including four roommates) were quarantined together in a separate dormitory. The 11 contacts received negative rapid SARS-CoV-2 antigen results and…