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Health expert recommends young children wear masks at summer camp

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on Wednesday made another plea for Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the more contagious delta variant becomes the dominant strain.
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on Wednesday made another plea for Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the more contagious delta variant becomes the dominant strain.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on Wednesday made another plea for Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the more contagious delta variant becomes the dominant strain.

“The virus wins when we let our guard down when we take our eye off the ball. We’ve seen many times that it’s fooled us in the past. We’ve got to stay vigilant. We’ve got to get vaccinated,” Murthy said.

Murthy reminded anyone who is not vaccinated to wear masks, especially as children head to summer camp.

In Illinois, at least 85 teenagers and adult staff at a summer youth camp held in mid-June tested positive for the coronavirus. The camp was not checking vaccination status and did not require masks indoors, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

In Jacksonville, Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens Education Director Kim Kuta Dring said it was almost business as usual at the Cummer as it hosted its summer camps.

“We scaled our camps back, so up to 10 students in a studio, which makes for great social distancing,” she siad.

Campers were also asked to wear masks throughout the day.

“We kind of have to meet everyone where they are and we certainly don’t want to rush into it,” Kuta Dring said.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, although people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks, camp programs should be supportive of campers or staff who choose to wear masks. But that guidance only includes camps with children age 12 and up who are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine currently.

RELATED: Vaccinated children don’t need to wear masks at summer camp, CDC says

News4Jax on Wednesday asked Chad Neilsen, UF Health Jacksonville director of accreditation and infection prevention, what he recommends for children who are not able to get vaccinated and who are attending summer camps.

“I think we still need to be mindful that because kids can’t be vaccinated, most of them can’t be vaccinated, they should still wear masks,” Neilsen said.

Neilsen said parents should highly consider getting their children vaccinated when they can, and if not, at least having them wear masks. Neilsen also said it doesn’t hurt for parents or anyone else living in the household to continue to wear masks as well.

According to the CDC, while fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared with adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19, can spread the virus to others and can have severe outcomes if they get sick.

There was some confusion recently when the World Health Organization came out and said even vaccinated people should continue to wear masks, while the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks. The common denominator between both organizations is that if you are not vaccinated -- and children under age 12 are not -- then you should still wear a mask.


About the Author:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.