By Charlotte Aguilar
For nearly six weeks, the city of Bellaire had carefully managed to offer its Camp Paseo summer recreation program to youngsters, but today (July 9) Paseo was shut down after a counselor tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
The daycamp, which had 78 youngsters registered during this session, has been “suspended until at least the beginning of next week,” the city alert read. The Recreation Center will be sanitized as a precaution.
The news comes on the heels of the closing Wednesday of Camp Ozark in Mt. Ida, Ark. That sleepaway camp popular with local families, ended its summer season after an untold number of campers and employees tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, according to state health officials.
And the closing of camp programs comes as Texas schools prepare for state-mandated reopening with far greater numbers of youngsters and adults, less manageable conditions and limited ability to use the outdoors as a safety measure than school officials are facing.
The Bellaire Parks and Recreation Department employee, who worked with one age group of campers, had been exposed to an affected family member and was tested on July 3, according to the city. The employee has not displayed symptoms and has not been at work this week.
Still, all city employees in contact with that worker are being tested and will be quarantined, as needed. Harris County Public Health has been alerted and will handle contact tracing notifications.
Bellaire had opened camp June 1, allowing only 80 youngsters per session, with the Rec Center as headquarters — no pool programs. Campers’ temperatures have been taken before admission each day and again after lunch.
No-contact activities that emphasized social distancing were provided, with campers divided into “communities” by age group, an additional step to keep physical contact to a minimum.
In the case of Camp Ozark, operators had worked with health officials to institute safety protocols including advance testing and social distancing, but photos showed extensive physical contact among campers.
On Tuesday, families with children at the camp or who had reservations for future sessions were given one-day notice of the closing, one local parent told Essentials, after being earlier notified of a camp counselor testing positive for the virus. She said parents with youngsters returning home were advised they should have them tested and quarantine for 14 days.
Camp owner Sam Torn took to YouTube to explain that “additional but limited spread has occurred, and we have continued with our contact tracing procedures and informed the families of those affected.”