Cases of COVID-19 force Bay Area summer camps to temporarily close

Summer camps on both sides of the bay have now had to shut down because of positive COVID-19 tests.

The city of Tampa said two staffers have tested positive, forcing the temporary closure of the Jackson Heights and Police Athletic League camps. 

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In St. Petersburg, Walter Fuller Park is being deep-cleaned after two campers tested positive there.

"It is tough times and we are trying to make the best of the tough times," said John Allen, the head of the city of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department.

At the Loretta Ingraham day camp, kids and staff have temperatures taken on the way in. Activities like art are done 6 feet apart or with clear plastic dividers, and rooms and equipment are exclusive to each kid and then sanitized every night.

Parents aren't allowed to get out of cars when they make pickups.

"I think that it is inevitable that folks are going to have cases at camps," said USF Dr. Pat Emmanuel, the chair of pediatrics.

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But Dr. Emmanuel said that's no reason to give up. Start with further educating your child at home about the need to stay socially distant, to wear a mask and to wash their hands. 

Looking for a camp that's as careful as Tampa's Loretta Ingraham with sanitizer, floor markings and handwashing is also smart.

"It is up to individual families and a discussion within families," said Dr. Emmanuel. "There are definitely things they can do and camps can do to keep kids safe."

The two camps in Tampa will reopen on June 22, and Walter Fuller in St. Petersburg will reopen in three days.

Dr. Emmanuel said kids who have underlying health issues should not be going to camp.