VDH reporting increase in COVID-19 outbreaks in childcare, summer camps
The Virginia Department of Health Central Region is reporting an increase in COVID-19 outbreaks in childcare facilities and summer camps as the Delta variant becomes more prevalent in the area.
The agency is warning parents and guardians that they need to be vigilant in taking mitigation measures to protect their children from contracting and spreading COVID-19. The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry requires that staff in childcare settings wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.
The Central Region, which includes the Richmond, Henrico, Chickahominy, Chesterfield, Crater, Southside, and Piedmont health districts, has seen a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases and an increase in the number of outbreaks at childcare facilities and summer camps.
Since July 1, in the Central Region, 10 COVID-19 outbreaks in summer camps and ten outbreaks in childcare/preschool facilities have been reported to the VDH. Ninety-five percent of those cases were unvaccinated. During the same period in 2020, one outbreak each in a summer camp and a childcare/preschool facility were reported.
However, many of these outbreaks include cases in children and adults who are now vaccine eligible. In fact, since July 1, 40 percent of those unvaccinated cases in childcare facilities and summer camps were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The Delta variant spreads more than twice as easily as previous variants,” said Dr. Caroline Holsinger, director of VDH’s Division of Surveillance and Investigation. “Vaccination is still the best way to protect against the Delta variant, but for children not yet eligible for the vaccine, it’s important to follow proper mitigation measures – wear a mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.”
No matter the level of transmission in a community, every childcare program should have a plan in place to protect staff, children, and their families from the spread of COVID-19, to include encouraging staff and eligible children to be vaccinated.
Childcare facilities and summer camps can help stop the spread by remembering the following steps:
- Wear a mask correctly, especially indoors.
- Watch your distance.
- Wash your hands often.
Parents can help by having open and honest conversations with children about the role they play in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about how to talk to children about COVID-19 here.
Parents should check their child’s temperature every morning and check for any other signs of illness (more information on illness signs can be found here). To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is important that children who have COVID-19 or might have it do not come to summer camp or childcare. Parents should consider having their child tested for COVID-19 before sending them to an overnight summer camp.
Additionally, if they have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, they should quarantine. Guidance for childcare facilities, summer camps, and overnight camps is available on the VDH and Center for Disease Control and Prevention websites.
Children 12 years and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and availability will be expanded to younger children. You can protect your child from contracting COVID-19 and possible complications like MIS-C by getting them vaccinated.
Vaccination also protects others who might be more vulnerable to COVID-19, like grandparents, by reducing a child’s chances of transmitting the disease. For more information on how to get vaccinated, visit Vaccinate.Virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA.
If childcare facilities or summer camps have a case of COVID-19, they should contact their local health department immediately to conduct contact tracing and determine the best course of action to stop the spread.