ITHACA, N.Y.—The youth summer camp held at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center resulted in at least 17 positive COVID-19 cases, according to the community center and the Tompkins County Health Department.

“Tompkins County Health Department can confirm 17 positive cases from exposures at the GIAC summer camp,” said Tompkins County Director of Communications Dominick Recckio. Those cases were linked to GIAC’s camp following a contact tracing process carried out by the county’s health department after one camp attendee’s positive test was reported to GIAC officials.

No children have been hospitalized as a result of the cluster, according to Recckio.

The 17 cases could be (partially) fueling the uptick in children’s cases in Tompkins County, as 22 people younger than 12 (in other words, ineligible for the vaccine) have tested positive for the illness since August began. It’s one of the largest single-location clusters confirmed by the Tompkins County Health Department since the pandemic began.

Deputy Director Kerry Philips said the community center had about 80 kids total at its summer camps. Although GIAC had been following the recommended guidance that had previously been published to safely conduct summer camps, an exposure occurred at some point late in the camp, which ended on Aug. 12. The cases at camp were asymptomatic, Philips said, which could have contributed to how they were missed by the daily health and wellness checks.

“Despite our best efforts and comprehensive COVID-19 safety protocols, there was COVID-19 exposure at GIAC’s summer camp, GIAC’s first since the pandemic began in March 2020,” Philips said in a statement to the Ithaca Voice, emphasizing that this was the community center’s first COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. “After camp ended for the summer, positive exposures were reported. GIAC is working in tandem with the Tompkins County Department of Health for the purpose of contact tracing.”

In mid-September, GIAC will still have its after-school programming, which will not be delayed. Protocols for that will include “small groups, masks, daily temperature checks, COVID screening questions, disinfecting and other safety guideline recommendations,” Philips said.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com