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COVID outbreak at church camp responsible for 40 cases in Jackson County

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By Nathan Vickers

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    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV) — Jackson County health officials believe a church camp held in Morgan County, Mo. was the origin of more than 40 local cases.

The camp included young people from several different church congregations in the region, put on by the Southern Missouri Youth Ministries, based in Springfield, MO.

The county said 200-300 kids attended the camp in June.

Ray Dlugolecki, the Jackson County Assistant Health Director, said that while nearly all the kids at the camp would have been eligible for a coronavirus vaccine, almost none of the infected kids had received one.

“We’ve worked with the organizers to find people and make them aware of the exposure, “he said. “We’re coordinating across the state to identify those secondary outbreaks.”

The camp’s website outlines COVID precautions at the camp, which include health screenings in advance of attending. Masks were encouraged, but not required.

Rhonda Amer, the Chief Financial Officer for the Southern Missouri District Council of Assembly of God Churches, sent a statement to KCTV5 saying:

“Prior to coming to the Southern Missouri District campground, each church was required to sign a waiver indicating that no attendee had indicated COVID symptoms within the last fourteen days or been directly exposed in the last fourteen days to anyone diagnosed with COVID. In addition, each church did a temperature check of all attendees before leaving for the campground.

During the week in question, there was no report of COVID symptoms in any of the attendees. Cases did not begin to surface until the Saturday evening and following after returning home.”

Dlugolecki said the outbreak was a reminder that the delta variant of the Coronavirus will continue to spread unless more people seek out vaccines.

“The important thing to remember is that this is not over even if we pretend it’s over,” he said. “If we’re not working against it it’ll catch up to us and cause more of those unnecessary hospitalizations and deaths.”

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