Minnesota summer camps work to keep COVID-19 at bay

Summertime means summer camp. But in recent weeks, health officials have seen COVID-19 outbreaks emerge at summer camps in Texas, Illinois, Florida, Missouri and Kansas.

At Camp Friendship in Annandale, Minnesota, staff is working to keep the coronavirus away from about 400 campers with special needs.

Jon Salmon, Director of Programs at True Friends summer camp, said that no one will be sharing rooms this year. They’re also masking up when appropriate.

"If people could be outside, or wearing a mask, or physically distanced… if they were doing two of those [three] things, that is going to help people to stay safe," Salmon said.

Hennepin Healthcare Pediatrician Dr. Subrahmanian says the most important thing is vaccination. He also encourages parents to ask camps lots of questions.

"What are they doing to keep everyone safe?" Subrahmanian asked. "Are they making sure that staff vaccinated?"

True Friends summer camp encourages but doesn’t require campers and staffers to get vaccinated. However, so far vaccines are only available for those 12 and older. 

"There’s a lot of kids under the age of 12 who are going to be participating in camps," Dr. Subrahmanian said.

Camp staff are tested weekly, and so far only one person has been sick.

"We did have one asymptomatic staff member doing our training," Salmon explained. "So that was before campers arrived at camp."

"Outdoors in a socially distant setting where the majority of people are vaccinated, that’s all a pretty low risk activity," Dr. Subrahmanian said. He says the risk of transmission increases when activities come indoors and people are not vaccinated, particularly in states with high levels of the COVID variants.

For more information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Minnesota, click here.

For information on testing recommendations this summer, click here.