A number of Texan parents have been left outraged after sending their kids to a church camp that was allegedly held without adequate coronavirus precautions, causing many of the children to be exposed to the virus and several to test positive.
Some 300 children may have been exposed to Covid-19 after attending camps in Hawkins, Texas, run by the Fellowship Church in Grapevine, with photos of the events revealing a lack of social distancing and barely any masks being worn.
At least three parents have already revealed publicly on Facebook that their children had tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from a camp over the past two weeks.
One parent said that they had seen photos of the kids at an indoor worship gathering, bunched tightly together and not wearing face coverings. "That for me was the photo where the hair on the back of your neck stands up,” she told local Texas outlet the Star-Telegram.
Other photos on a Blogspot forum show tens of kids gathered together at a poolside.
One parent said that she did not blame the church for having the camp and took responsibility for the poor decision of "sending him when I knew better". However, the parent also urged the church "to take some ownership of alerting people in the community".
"I chose to send him, but they need to be transparent," she added. "They should have contacted everyone. They should have emailed, called, put it out on Facebook, because these kids are just out in the community going to dance camps and sports and everything.”
A Fellowship Church spokesman insisted that the camp followed infection prevention guidelines as laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and said that staff would call parents if campers started experiencing symptoms or were in close contact with someone who did.
“This summer, Fellowship Church held several life-changing weeks of camp for kids and students,” the spokesman said in an email to the Star-Telegram. “We believe that the church partnering with parents is essential to the success of children.” The spokesman added that they “followed every single procedure" and the staff have "actually gone above and beyond that, and anybody who may have exhibited any symptoms of anything — headache, cough, sneezing, whether it be a temperature, anything — we were on top of it.”
Another camp, run by the Keystone Church in Keller, Texas, has also come under fire from parents who insist their kids have become sick since attending. One parent of a 17-year-old attendee who subsequently tested positive for the disease told Fox News she was "angry" at the whole situation.
"Every day I think, 'I really wish I would have put my foot down, I really wish I would have not sent her,'' Stephanie Brady added to NBC 5. "But I really had faith that the church would do the right thing."
Tarrant County's chief elected officer told the outlet that he was concerned by the lack of safety measures at the camp.
“I was very disappointed in the photos that showed little if any wearing of masks,” Judge Glen Whitley explained. “If we’re going to beat this thing, we’ve got to be doing the social distancing, we have to be as concerned about other people's rights as we are about our own.”
The state of Texas has almost 400,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 - nearly 100,000 more than the entire United Kingdom.