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COVID-19 impacts several summer camps in Utah County

Posted at 6:59 PM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 20:59:21-04

UTAH COUNTY — Cases continue to rise throughout the state but officials with The Utah County Health Department say they are seeing a new problem spot.

Several new outbreaks have been reported at summer camps.

“We need to be responsible for our health and the fact we can infect other people” Tyler Plewe, Deputy Director of the Utah County Health Department said. “Just with doing our epidemiological work we’ve had linked cases with several of these camps.”

They are not releasing exactly which camps have become problem areas but are saying that despite the lifting of regulations across the state, these camps easing restrictions may not be a good idea.

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“It's a lot similar to a family style intimate setting where you are eating, you’re sleeping, you're doing a lot of activities with the same person,” Plewe said.

The vaccination rate in Utah County is only 37.5% for those fully vaccinated and sits at the bottom of counties when it comes to the percentage of fully vaccinated individuals.

Aside from the health aspects of COVID-19, there are lots of health benefits to getting out this summer.

Plewe agrees, “You know a lot of these camps help with the overall health of a person.”

Read - Utah reports 693 new COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths

Echoing that sentiment is Callie Birdsall-Chambers, V.P. of Marketing & Communication for the Girl Scouts of Utah who said, “You know being cooped up for a year was really hard for kids or they couldn’t go to school they couldn’t have their regular activities so providing some sense of normalcy to them but also they are ready to be outside.”

The Girl Scouts of Utah operate two camps, one in Provo Canyon and the other in Park City, both of which were shut down last year.

The mental health of those involved with the Girl Scouts was the main reason they decided to have summer camps again but for them they’ve kept strict protocols in place.

“That’s our number one priority is the health and safety of our members,” Birdsall-Chambers said. “Our outdoor program team and our COVID task force worked for months for everything to be set in place.”

They are still doing things like keeping faculty and students in isolated groups, testing for those that are not vaccinated, as well as masks wearing when staying within units isn’t possible.

“Our camps are accredited by the American camp association. So, with their policies and guidelines as well as their recommendations, we took those into considerations," Birdsall-Chambers said.

Another group that operates camps is the YMCA of Northern Utah and they too have kept strict protocols in place.

“We as an organization decided that we were going to continue our COVID protocol from last summer,” CEO Rich West said.

The YMCA of Northern Utah had summer camps last year, but they are keeping everything exactly the same this year to keep kids safe.

While they weren’t sure it was necessary at first, seeing other outbreaks has reinforced their decision.

“It helps us in reinforcing to our staff and our parents that what we are doing is important,” West said.

With cases back on the rise and summer camps being potential problem spots the message from camps that are taking all the precautions is to be safe.

“Whenever you sign your kids up for any sort of program, I would hope parents also take that responsibility to make sure where they are sending their kids is safe but also that they are taking those precautions as well,” said Birdsall-Chambers.