DOH traces COVID-19 cases to Camp Judson in the Black Hills Original

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Department of Health said Monday a cluster of COVID-19 cases has been traced to Camp Judson in Keystone but there are fewer than 10 cases.

It’s possible the number of cases could increase as well as the number individual who may need to isolate because of close contact, said state epidemiologist Dr. Josh Clayton.

Clayton said the impact of the COVID-19 camp cases depends in part on the close contact between those at the camp. Close contact is contact of more than 15 minutes and distance of less than six feet, he said.

Camp Judson is a religious camp that offers overnight camps for youth, young adults and families, according to its website. Most of the camps and programs start after July 4.

The camp announced in a July 23 Facebook post that it was cancelling junior high camp this summer. ” With great sorrow, many prayers, countless hours of discussion, and many tears, we have decided to cancel Jr High Camp this summer,” the Facebook post said.

Junior Camp ran from July 19-25 for grades four through six. The trail camp ran from July 19-25 for youth in grades seven through 12 but was limited to 20 registrants, according to the camp’s website. Both were overnight camps but the trail camp participants camped at Lake Sheridan for five of the seven days, according to the website. High school camp ran from July 12-18.

A family camp from Aug. 2-8 is listed a future camp on the camp’s website.

Camp Judson released a statement related to the COVID-19 cases shortly before 5:30 p.m. July 27 in which it said the cases stemmed from the July 12-18 senior high camp. Parents were alerted with a day of first learning of the case, the statement said.

The statement is attached below.

The state does not release specifics about cluster areas of COVID-19 but Clayton said some of the individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 were campers.

In a letter posted on the Camp Judson Facebook page on June 2 and addressed to friends, camp director Tracy Koskan said the camp would be taking additional precautions this summer because of the cornavirus pandemic.

Campers were asked to forgo camp if the camper or the friend of the camper were sick or had COVID-19 symptoms, or exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last two to 14 days or has major health issues, according to the letter.

Clayton said the Centers for Disease Control has guidelines for camps that include dividing campers into modules to limit contact and maintain social distancing.

The June 2 Camp Judson letter said would take necessary precautions such as temperature screenings at check in, increased cleanings, additional soap dispensers and hand sanitizers and others.

The Camp Judson letter posted on the camp’s Facebook page on June 2.

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