A Covid-19 outbreak stemming from a Texas church summer camp has grown to about 160 cases, including infections of the highly contagious Delta variant, the Galveston County local health authority said.
More than 450 people attended the camp for sixth through 12th graders in late June, hosted by Clear Creek Community Church. The camp took place at Tejas Camp & Retreat in Giddings, Texas.
Of the roughly 160 people infected, six (about 3.7%) had been vaccinated, said Dr. Philip Keiser, the Galveston County local health authority.
Samples from some of the infections are being tested to see whether they were caused by the Delta strain – which is now the dominant variant in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far, at least three have been confirmed to be the Delta variant, and more are being tested, Keiser said.
The Delta variant has a cluster of mutations, including one known as L452R, that helps it infect human cells more easily. Known cases of the Delta strain have been doubling every two weeks.
Keiser said he believes “there is no doubt” the Delta variant is “spreading very rapidly in this population.”
Last week, a pastor for Clear Creek Community Church issued a statement saying more people may be exposed to Covid-19.
“Unfortunately, upon return from camp, 125+ campers and adults reported to us that they tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, hundreds more were exposed to COVID-19 at camp,” Lead Pastor Bruce Wesley said in the statement.
“And hundreds of others were likely exposed when infected people returned home from camp,” he wrote.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, we have sought to love our neighbors by practicing strict safety protocols. We are surprised and saddened by this turn of events. Our hearts break for those infected with the virus,” Wesley said in his letter to the church community.
Services at all five of the church’s campuses have been canceled through Wednesday, Wesley said.
As for the camp venue, Tejas Camp & Retreat is monitoring its staff members’ health and continues to follow state and CDC safety and testing guidance, Executive Director Paul Biles said Tuesday.
He said Clear Creek Community Church was the only group using the facility when the outbreak occurred.
Health officials are asking anyone who attended the Clear Creek Community Church camp who either feels sick or is a “close contact” of someone who tested positive after attending the camp to get tested and quarantine at home while they await the test results.
“This is a reminder that COVID-19 is still here, and we have to take precautions,” Keiser wrote in a county statement.
“In this outbreak, at least as of now, it appears most of the people who have tested positive are old enough to be vaccinated,” the health authority said.
“These vaccines are safe, effective and they offer the best protection against COVID-19 to you, your family and your community.”