An Illinois church camp that didn't check campers or staffers' vaccination statuses or require masks indoors is under fire following a COVID outbreak.

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An image of COVID-19 tests.
Credit: Getty Images.

Although vaccination rates are up and masks are off in many parts of the country, COVID-19 outbreaks continue to concern parents. A story out of Illinois underlines the importance of vaccination and following safety guidelines this summer. More than 80 teens and adult staffers from a summer church camp recently tested positive for the virus.

According to a statement from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Crossing Camp in Schuyler County, which was held in mid-June, reportedly didn't check vaccination status for either campus or staffers, and masks weren't required indoors. All campers and staff were eligible for vaccination, but the IDPH says they were "aware of only a handful of campers and staff receiving" it.

In response to the outbreak, IDPH is emphasizing the importance of vaccination, especially among young people, given that the Delta variant and other variants continue to spread.

In a press release, IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike noted, "The majority of the 85 COVID-19 cases associated with the youth camp are among teens. The perceived risk to children may seem small, but even a mild case of COVID-19 can cause long-term health issues. Additionally, infected youth who may not experience severe illness can still spread the virus to others, including those who are too young to be vaccinated or those who don't build the strong expected immune response to the vaccine."

IDPH added that at least two individuals from the camp also went to a nearby church conference, which resulted in 11 additional positive cases.

In Schuyler and Adams counties, where the outbreaks occurred, approximately 40 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, the release explained.

In response to the outbreak, the Schuyler County Health Department reportedly worked with camp staffers "to provide guidance and mitigate the situation," and the camp followed CDC guidelines to clean and disinfect their facility.

Anyone who visited the camp in mid-June is being advised by county and state health officials to get a PCR test regardless of symptoms.

Here's hoping that this situation serves as a reminder of the importance of following the latest summer camp guidance from the CDC and AAP.