The Ohio Department of Health has updated its guidance for summer and residential camps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The precaution comes after health officials reported COVID-19 outbreaks linked to two camps in western Ohio.
ODH recommends the following best practices specifically for camps:
- Encourage COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible campers (age 12 and older), staff, and volunteers.
- Establish cohorts or “pods,” small groups of campers and staff who stay together for the entire camp. Minimize mixing of cohorts to the largest extent possible, to reduce potential exposures.
- Campers who stay together in the same cabin, bunkhouse, or similar space do not need to wear masks provided they maximize physical distance when together, and there are no other cohorts nearby.
- Whenever possible, campers should maintain at least 3 feet between any other camper in their cohort and 6 feet from campers outside their cohort.
- Face masks should NEVER be worn when sleeping.
- When different cohorts are in the same indoor space, campers and staff who are not fully vaccinated* should wear face masks and maintain physical distancing.
- Generally, face masks are not needed outdoors, unless in a crowded space and physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Consider using screening testing to rapidly identify cases of COVID-19, including individuals who may not be experiencing any symptoms.
- Improve ventilation in cabins, recreation centers, and dining halls as much as possible. For instance, open windows if it is safe to do so.
- Encourage frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- All camps should have plans and protocols to identify and isolate any camper or staff who develops symptoms of COVID-19.
The full list of recommendations can be read in full here.
Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer at ODH, says the recommended practices are critical if not everyone at a residential camp is fully vaccinated.
ODH said if everyone at a camp is not fully vaccinated, it recommends people wear a mask in any indoor location that is not a home and outdoors if not socially distanced.
The agency also recommends people avoid gathering in large groups if not fully vaccinated.
“This is especially important as a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 settles in our state,” stated Vanderhoff. “Taking these precautions can help reduce the likelihood of spread and allow everyone to safely participate in camp activities.”
Ohioans 12 years old and older are eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. You can make an appointment here.