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A Maskless Church Camp And Conference Are Linked To 180 COVID-19 Cases

1September 2021

Health officials in Illinois have linked nearly 200 COVID-19 cases to two events — a church camp for teens and a men’s conference — and the number of people who may have been exposed may be much greater and spans multiple states.

An organization held a five-day church camp for teens and a two-day men’s conference in June that have since been linked to a spike in cases following research by the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report Monday that. The CDC did not name the organization.

As of mid-August, 180 COVID-19 cases had been linked to those who attended one of those events or someone had close contact with someone who did, the CDC said.

A majority of those cases, 122, were attributed to attendees, with 87 people contracting COVID-19 during the camp and another 35 during the conference. Most of those cases, 104, were unvaccinated people.

Only five people were hospitalized, none of whom were vaccinated, and no deaths were reported. But officials say that more than 1,000 people across at least four states could have been exposed through the two events, the CDC said.

The report points to these cases as an example of the dangers of hosting large events with little to no safeguards in place. Attendees at both events were not required to be vaccinated and organizers did not require participants to get tested before allowing entry, the report says.

Nearly 300 teens between the ages of 14 and 18 attended the camp after traveling together in large groups on buses. They then spent the week living and dining together and mingling with other campers, according to the CDC.

It’s unclear if masks were required, but the report says that a list of items to pack for the week did not include masks. Similarly, another 500 people attended the men’s conference, where masks were also not required, the CDC says.

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