Duke study shows 'minimal' COVID-19 spread at YMCA day camps across six Triangle counties

Just one day after Governor Roy Cooper made the push for kids to return to in-person learning, a brand new study from Duke Health was published that brings attention to the transmission of COVID-19 in day camps.

"Our study suggests that appropriate measures to reduce the spread of disease can create an environment where normal childhood activities...can be provided with minimal risk," said lead author Dr. Emily D'Agostino. She is an assistant professor at Duke in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

The study, from March through August 2020, looked at 6,830 staff members and children at 54 YMCA day camps across six counties in the Triangle.

  • Durham
  • Wake
  • Orange
  • Chatham
  • Johnston
  • Lee

Roughly two-thirds of the YMCA day camps studied were held indoors or a mix between indoor and outdoor.

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Dr. D'Agostino believes that makes a strong case for kids being able to handle in-person activities at large. "I think we have to everybody has to make their own decision of course but I think it's important to think about the science and this was excellent science," she said.

According to D'Agostino, the science, "tells us (what) we need to do to mitigate COVID-19. and that we're able to have in-person programming safely for kids.

The results of the study, which were published in the journal Pediatrics, show when kids and adults follow the proper CDC protocol, which includes washing hands, waiting six feet apart, and wearing a mask, in-person activities for children come with a low risk.

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In fact, the study found the day camps to be the source for two positive cases of COVID-19.

"This truly does have implications for places where youth can benefit from in-person programming ethically, because these settings play such an important role for the health and the wellness...and mental wellness included in youth in our community," said D'Agostino.

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