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CDC issues new guidelines for summer camps

The CDC has issued guidelines for how day and overnight camps can safely open this summer.

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance over the weekend for youth camps planning to open this summer. 

The guidelines, which cover both day and overnight camps, stress the importance of wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and staff getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

The federal health agency said its guidance is meant to supplement but not replace any state or local rules that the summer camps must follow. 

While the CDC noted fewer children have gotten sick with COVID-19 compared with adults, children are more likely to be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and can still spread the virus to others. 

"Consistent use of the multiple prevention strategies described...can limit the spread of COVID-19 in many settings, including camps and can help camps open safely for in-person activities," the CDC guidance reads. 

While all American adults are now eligible for coronavirus vaccines, there are no COVID-19 vaccines approved for children of all ages yet. 

"For this reason, even after camp employees are vaccinated, camps need to continue prevention measures for the foreseeable future, including requiring masks and physical distancing," the summer camp guidance details.

The guidelines state camp activities should occur outside as much as possible and discourages playing close-contact or indoor sports.

When it comes to overnight camps, the CDC says unvaccinated campers and staff members should do a 2-week prearrival quarantine to reduce their exposure to COVID-19. The agency suggests wearing masks when not at home, avoiding unnecessary travel and refraining from gathering indoors with people outside of their family. 

The CDC says overnight camps should also ask everyone who isn't fully vaccinated to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test taken no more than 1-3 days before camp arrival. 

The agency suggests creating cohorts, or groups of campers and staff that stay together throughout the day, and minimize interaction and mixing with other camper groups. Those in the same cohort should continue to wear masks at all times, except when eating and drinking or swimming. 

When it comes to overnight camps, the CDC says campers and staff living together in a cabin would be considered a "household cohort" and don't need to wear masks or social distance when they're together and no one else is around. 

The guidelines suggest daily symptom checks for staff and campers, if possible, to try and catch any COVID-19 cases early on.