UPDATED: Galveston County Health District confirms delta variant in samples from outbreak

The variant of COVID-19 was identified in three test samples tied to a church camp’s outbreak. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
The variant of COVID-19 was identified in three test samples tied to a church camp’s outbreak. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

The variant of COVID-19 was identified in three test samples tied to a church camp’s outbreak. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Updated at 2:33 p.m. July 8 with additional reporting

At least 100 adults and youth from the Clear Creek Community Church youth ministry camp have tested positive for COVID-19, based on data from county health experts and reporting from ABC13.

The camp was held at a facility near Giddings, Texas last month, per ABC13. As of July 8, Galveston County Health District has confirmed 100 cases tied to the church camp outbreak, according to the health district’s daily coronavirus report. Three samples have tested positive for the Delta variant.

Ten breakthrough cases have been identified, meaning these cases occurred in people who had been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days. In addition to the 100 confirmed cases, another 15 Galveston County residents have self-reported testing positive for COVID-19, per GCHD, and these reports are under investigation before being confirmed.

"Unfortunately, upon return from camp, 125+ campers and adults reported to us that they tested positive for COVID-19," church officials said in a statement to ABC13 released July 6. "Additionally, hundreds more were exposed to COVID-19 at camp. And hundreds of others were likely exposed when infected people returned home from camp. We seek to remain in contact with those impacted. If you, or someone in your family, begins to have symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately."

The five-day camp event was attended by around 450 adults and children in grades six through 12, per ABC13—which puts the group’s positivity rate around at least 22%. News of the outbreak forced church leaders to cancel services for July 4 and July 7; the majority of the confirmed cases have been in adults ages 12 and older, ABC13 reported.

There have been 110 total breakthrough cases in Galveston County as of July 2, the health district reported July 8. This equates to about 0.07% breakthrough, which is lower than what was expected from studies, per GCHD. More than 148,000 county residents are fully vaccinated.

Originally posted 3:13 p.m. July 6

The delta variant of COVID-19 has been identified in three test samples tied to a church camp outbreak, according to a Galveston County Health District news release from the afternoon of July 6.

To date, 57 Galveston County youth and adults affiliated with the camp group have been confirmed as testing positive for COVID-19; additional samples are being tested, per the release. More than 450 adults and youth in grades six to 12 from the area were in attendance, putting the group’s COVID-19 positivity rate around 12%.

“I cannot stress enough—there is no reason to not get vaccinated if you’re old enough. There are plenty of vaccines available,” said Philip Keiser, Galveston County local health authority, in the release. “In this outbreak, at least as of now, it appears most of the people who have tested positive are old enough to be vaccinated. These vaccines are safe, effective and they offer the best protection against COVID-19 to you, your family and your community.”

The youth group did not leave the campground during their stay but did have contact with counselors from their church, and no other campers were on-site, per the release.

The camp took place late last month outside of Galveston County, per the release. The health district was notified June 27 of the first COVID-19 case tied to the camp.

Of the 57 cases reported, six are considered breakthrough cases, meaning the person became infected more than 14 days after their second COVID-19 vaccination. Forty-seven cases are in youth and adults age 12 and older, while 10 are in youth younger than 12.

The delta variant is more contagious than other strains, and nonvaccinated people are the most at risk, Keiser said in the release. The health district will continue to work with church leadership, tracing potential contacts and offering resources.

Anyone who attended the church camp that begins experiencing symptoms or is in close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive, should get tested and quarantine at home while waiting for results, per the release. Those who are not vaccinated, including children younger than 12, are encouraged to continue wearing a face mask and practice social distancing in public settings.

In addition to the 57 confirmed cases from this outbreak, more than 90 people—including non-Galveston County residents—have self-reported positive test results to the health district. The release notes there may be a delay in labs reporting cases to the health district due to the holiday weekend. Non-county residents’ cases would be reported to their county of residence.

The health district July 6 reported a four-day total of 113 additional COVID-19 cases and 67 additional recoveries. Of those cases, 110 cases are current, and three are older, newly reported cases. To date, more than 401,000 tests have been administered in the county.

Click here to read a Q&A with an infection prevention specialist about the delta variant, the Novavax vaccine and the future of vaccinations.

By Colleen Ferguson
A native central New Yorker, Colleen Ferguson worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. Colleen graduated from Syracuse University in 2019, where she worked for the campus's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange, with a degree in Newspaper and Online Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a degree in Spanish language and culture. Colleen previously interned with The Journal News/lohud, where she covered the commute in the greater New York City area.



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