State and federal health officials worry vacationing North Carolinians may be exacerbating coronavirus’ spread.
Raleigh’s public swimming pools opened Monday, the morning after area parents received an email warning them that children attending a local summer camp were exposed to COVID-19.
On Monday morning, a second summer camp also reported possible exposure to the virus.
According to The News & Observer, Raleigh’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department notified 24 sets of parents late Sunday that someone at their child’s summer camp tested positive for COVID-19.
“Your child had exposure to the individual who tested positive and it is possible that your child could have contracted the virus,” the email read. The message further stated that exposure started on June 29, the day the city reopened its summer camps.
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The email to parents did not disclose the infected individual’s name. But in a Facebook post, Raleigh City Council Member David Cox revealed that an email to Council identified the coronavirus carrier as a part-time counselor at Millbrook Exchange Park youth day camp, which also includes the Ann Gordon Center for Active Adults.
“Though the individual worked only one day at a single facility, we have notified staff and families at two facilities given potential sibling exposure,” Cox wrote. “As a result of the potential for contact, 26 camp participants have been asked to quarantine until July 14. PRCR believes as many as 30 part or full-time staff will be asked to quarantine, as well.”
Parents have also been instructed to contact Wake County Health and Human Services for further guidance.
On Monday morning, another set of parents received a similar email warning from a camp at Northwest Cary YMCA, WTVD reported. A child who attended Camp Outer Limits from June 22 through June 26 tested positive for the virus, the email said.
The YMCA assured parents that it will be disinfecting all areas of the camp, and encouraged parents of campers to contact their doctors if their children exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms.
The camp lockdowns did not alter the city’s plans to reopen its public swimming pools, citing health officials’ reassurances that pools can be safe.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 cannot spread from person to person in water. Plus, pool disinfectants like chlorine also kill viruses, providing another line of defense against infection.
Crowding at pools is still a concern though, prompting city officials to require swimmers to maintain social distancing guidelines both in and out of the water, WTVD reported. Furthermore, capacity has been reduced with swimmers’ sessions limited to 75 minutes. Face masks and wellness checks are also being required upon entry.
“We don’t get a holiday from COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, as North Carolina continues to reopen for summer, state officials expanded their list of NC trouble spots to include nine “counties of concern.”
Included among the list is Wake County, home to Raleigh.
In an early June phone call from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Deborah Birx told DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen that federal officials were worried about a half-dozen North Carolina counties.
Kody Kinsley, NCDHHS’ deputy secretary for behavioral health, told The News & Observer that the department picked the counties based on their percentage of positive tests, as well as their increasing numbers of cases and outbreaks.
Currently the number of hotspot counties has increased to nine: Alamance, Duplin, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Johnston, Lee, Mecklenburg and Wake.
Among the mix of rural and urban counties, Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, has shown the most alarming increase in infections. On Sunday, the county reported 230 new cases, more than every other county in the state. Mecklenburg reported 13,111 infections and 154 deaths as of Monday. In contrast, Wake County stands at 6,150 cases and 49 deaths.
Summer activities coupled with North Carolina’s easing of social-distancing rules have been factors in the increase, health officials believe.
Last Thursday, Cohen may have been alluding to the dangers of lapsing into a summer vacation state of mind.
“Unfortunately, we don’t get a holiday from COVID-19,” she told reporters.