Some medical experts claimed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) strict guidelines for child summer camps are “virtue signaling” at best, and possibly “cruel.”
The CDC rolled out heavy-handed guidelines for children and teens planning to attend summer camps last month, ostensibly to combat spread of COVID-19. Scientists and other experts say the standards ignore the science around COVID-19, however, and are unnecessarily harsh toward young people, according to experts interviewed by New York Magazine.
JAMA Pediatrics editor-in-chief and epidemiologist Dimitri Christakis said that the rules are “unfairly draconian” and that “keeping children masked for activities like baseball and tennis is ridiculous.”
“We should let kids be close and play, he said. And with rapid testing twice a week on a rolling basis, a relatively easy program to conduct, he added, we should be able to forgo masks. Even without testing, Christakis said that sports like soccer should be able to be done without masks,” New York Magazine reported.
Columbia University pediatric immunologist Mark Gorelik said that any rule mandating that children must be masked while outside in 90-degree weather is indefensible.
“We know that the risk of outdoor infection is very low. We know risks of children becoming seriously ill or even ill at all is vanishingly small. And most of the vulnerable population is already vaccinated. I am supportive of effective measures to restrain the spread of illness. However, the CDC’s recommendations cross the line into excess and are, frankly, senseless. Children cannot be running around outside in 90-degree weather wearing a mask. Period.”
An infectious-diseases expert with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the agency run by Dr. Anthony Fauci who has promoted the CDC’s guidelines for summer camps, ripped into the standards, as well.
“With staff and parents vaccinated, there is no reason to continue incredibly strict mitigation efforts or put severe limitations on activities,” the anonymous official said. “Charitably, masking kids at camp outdoors is simply virtue signaling. Requiring kids to continuously wear masks at camps, even while outside playing in the heat, when it provides little additional protection is unfair and cruel to our children. Considering that children are at incredibly low risk for developing severe illness, the minimal benefits of mask wearing do not outweigh the substantial costs of discouraging children to be active and their overall health.”
The Mercury News summarized some of the updated CDC guidance for campers:
- Wearing masks at all times, with a few exceptions including while eating, swimming or napping. The mask requirement applies to vaccinated staff as well as campers.
- Each camper should have more than one clean mask available every day.
- Establishment, when possible, of cohorts of staff and campers who will stay together throughout the day.
- Minimum distance of 3 feet between campers of the same cohort, 6 feet between everyone else. Cohort members should maintain 6-foot distancing while they are eating and other times when masks are off.
- Campers should be outside as much as possible.
- No mixing or interaction with the general public during trips beyond the camp.
- Adult staffers, family members and any campers or juvenile staffers eligible for the COVID vaccine should get it, with their last shot at least two weeks before arrival at camp.
- Those not vaccinated should be tested before arrival at camp and again three to five days after arrival.