MIAMISBURG, Ohio (WDTN) — UPDATE: Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County is now reporting at least 70 cases of COVID-19 associated with a retreat at Camp Chautauqua. Thirteen of the reported cases are local to the Miami Valley.
Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County is investigating a COVID-19 outbreak out of Camp Chautauqua in Miamisburg with at least 30 confirmed cases. The Ohio Department of Health has issued a statewide alert after the exposure was discovered and alerted surrounding states.
Public health officials said that the incident occurred during a Baptist Church retreat from June 27 to July 3 that included people from Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana. The 30+ confirmed cases were from Ohio and Kentucky, but over 800 people attended the event. Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County’s PIO Dan Suffoletto says eight of those 30 cases are confirmed here in Montgomery County. All eight cases are people who are not vaccinated.
“When there is a large number of people and many are not vaccinated and no one is wearing masks, that is a ripe situation for a potential spread of COVID-19,” said Suffoletto.
The camp and event organizers allegedly did not respond to Public Health for several days after reports emerged of new cases and have not yet provided contact information for attendees. Public health officials are asking anyone who attended this event to contact them or their local health department.
“Unvaccinated people, including children under 12 years of age, are up to 100 times more likely to get sick after exposure to COVID-19 compared to fully vaccinated individuals,” said Dr. Michael Dohn, Medical Director of Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County. “This outbreak demonstrates that the COVID-19 virus is still circulating and continues to make people sick.”
Jason Harmeyer, the President and CEO of Chautauqua Camp and Conference Center has responded to the concerns from Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County, saying:
The safety and security of our guests is our top concern. We have taken extra precautions in relation to COVID-19 to help ensure that we mitigate as much risk as possible for campers, counselors, and staff. We have been safely operating as a camp and conference center for decades and we will continue to do what is best for students as we weigh the risk associated with COVID as well as the health and well-being of students who have experienced extended isolation with little to no human interaction with others.
We are aware of no positive cases of COVID this entire year until July 1st. From June 28th – July 2nd we hosted a camp on our campus which included churches from surrounding areas. On Thursday July 1st an individual tested positive for COVID and we immediately had the person quarantined off campus. In addition, we initiated diligent monitoring of the rest of the group for symptoms and began temperature checks of individuals associated with that group. We also performed temperature checks and COVID tests for our staff after receiving the news of this single positive case. We informed group leaders for that week that there had been positive cases and assured them that all responsible individuals were taking the essential and necessary steps to mitigate the spread.
Since then, we have had regular contact with individual group leaders associated with this week and have confirmed that they are taking the necessary precautions. We have been encouraged by the level of concern and response to any known positive cases from their week of camp. We have also been working directly, cooperatively and collaboratively with health department officials representing several counties that had groups on our campus that week. It is also vital to note that we have had no other positive cases for guests on our campus since July 2nd.
We have been and continue to be committed to engaging, equipping and empowering students in a healthy, positive and safe environment.
Those who would like to call Public Health can do so at 937-225-4508. They ask anyone who attended to monitor themselves closely for symptoms and contact their healthcare provider should symptoms develop.