COVID-19 Outbreak at an Overnight Summer School Retreat - Wisconsin, July-August 2020

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 Oct 30;69(43):1600-1604. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6943a4.


During July 2-August 11, 2020, an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) occurred at a boys' overnight summer school retreat in Wisconsin. The retreat included 152 high school-aged boys, counselors, and staff members from 21 states and territories and two foreign countries. All attendees were required to provide documentation of either a positive serologic test result* within the past 3 months or a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests result for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) ≤7 days before travel, to self-quarantine within their households for 7 days before travel, and to wear masks during travel. On July 15, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WDHS) began an investigation after being notified that two students at the retreat had received positive SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test results. WDHS offered RT-PCR testing to attendees on July 28 and serologic testing on August 5 and 6. Seventy-eight (51%) attendees received positive RT-PCR results (confirmed cases), and 38 (25%) met clinical criteria for COVID-19 without a positive RT-PCR result (probable cases). By the end of the retreat, 118 (78%) persons had received a positive serologic test result. Among 24 attendees with a documented positive serologic test result before the retreat, all received negative RT-PCR results. After RT-PCR testing on July 28, WDHS recommended that remaining susceptible persons (asymptomatic and with negative RT-PCR test results) quarantine from other students and staff members at the retreat. Recommended end dates for isolation or quarantine were based on established guidance (1,2) and determined in coordination with CDC. All attendees were cleared for interstate and commercial air travel to return home on August 11. This outbreak investigation documented rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2, likely from a single student, among adolescents and young adults in a congregate setting. Mitigation plans that include prearrival quarantine and testing, cohorting, symptom monitoring, early identification and isolation of cases, mask use, enhanced hygiene and disinfection practices, and maximal outdoor programming are necessary to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in these settings (3,4).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Camping*
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / statistics & numerical data
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission
  • Schools*
  • Time Factors
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology
  • Young Adult