The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently issued guidelines for the youth camps to be held this summer.
The federal agency proposed rules on how the children should behave for the duration of their stay at the summer camp.
First and foremost, CDC recommended that children wear masks at all times during their camp stay, regardless of their and other camp participants’ vaccination status.
The only exceptions allowed are the occasions of eating, sleeping, and swimming.
Each camper is also instructed to have more than one clean face mask available during the day.
There should also exist a 3 feet distance between the members of the same cohort and a 6 feet distance between members of different cohorts.
According to the guidelines, campers should also be outdoors as much as possible and avoid mixing with the general public.
Everyone eligible, be it a staff member, family member, or even a camper, is also encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
If possible, they should receive their second dose at least two weeks before arrival at the camp.
Those unvaccinated are instructed to take a COVID-19 test before they arrive and get tested after being at a summer camp for several days.
Experts reacting to the guidelines
Several medical experts raised their voices against the new CDC summer camp guidelines, describing them as too harsh.
Epidemiologist Dimitri Christakis, the JAMA Pediatrics journal editor, characterized the measures as ‘unfairly draconian’ toward children.
He said that it is ridiculous to require that children wear masks during activities such as tennis and baseball.
Christakis pointed out that performing COVID-19 tests on a twice-per-week basis would be a much better approach, adding that children should be permitted to play some sports mask-free even if there is no testing.
Mark Gorelik, a pediatric immunologist at Columbia University, described the requirement to wear masks in 90-degree weather as ‘indefensible.’
He stressed that such measures are ‘senseless’ given that the outdoor infection risk is low and children are under the minuscule threat of severe disease.
Gorelik added that, also considering that most people from vulnerable populations have already been vaccinated, CDC guidelines seem too excessive.
An unnamed expert from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) also commented on the guidelines.
He said mandating children to wear masks outside, especially in hot weather, is ‘virtue signaling’ at best, if not downright cruel.
The expert emphasized that, given the low risks of severe disease in children and the fact that staff and parents are vaccinated, the minimal benefits of mask-wearing outdoors do not outweigh its costs to children’s activity level and overall health.