150 COVID cases, including Delta variant, detected in mass outbreak at Texas church camp


GIDDINGS, Texas (KXAN) — Three cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant have been traced back to a student ministry camp hosted in Giddings in late June.

Clear Creek Community Church — located in League City near Houston — confirmed more than 450 people attended the leadership camp at Tejas Camp & Retreat in Giddings, east of Bastrop in Lee County. Nearly 150 adults and children have since either self-reported or had a lab test-confirmed positive case of COVID-19.

“From the beginning of the pandemic, we have sought to love our neighbors by practicing strict safety protocols,” Lead Pastor Bruce Wesley said in a July 3 statement. “We are surprised and saddened by this turn of events. Our hearts break for those infected with the virus.”

Galveston County Health District confirmed in a July 2 statement there were 20 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases within Galveston County related to the trip. As of Tuesday, that figure had risen to 57 lab-confirmed cases in the county, officials told KXAN.

Of the 57 lab-confirmed cases, 47 cases are linked to adults or children age 12 and older, while 10 are in children age 12 and younger. Six of the confirmed cases are identified as breakthrough cases, or cases found in individuals more than 14 days after their second vaccination.

In an update Tuesday, GCHD officials said the 57 lab-confirmed cases are in addition to more than 90 self-reported COVID-19 cases. The additional 90 cases include both Galveston County and non-county residents.

“The Delta variant is highly contagious, more so than other strains. And people who are unvaccinated are at most risk,” said Dr. Philip Keiser, Galveston County local health authority, in the release. “I cannot stress enough – there is no reason to not get vaccinated if you’re old enough.”

GCHD was notified of the first positive COVID-19 case linked to the camp on June 27. Clear Creek Community Church announced it had canceled in-person services on July 4 and July 7, with an anticipated return to services on July 11.

Paul Biles, executive director of Tejas Camp & Retreat, said in a statement to KXAN that Clear Creek Community campers were the only guests present on the site at the time of the outbreak.

“We had the opportunity to host Clear Creek Community Church in late June 2021. After the time at camp, some of those who attended tested positive for COVID-19. Since being informed, we have been in contact with their leadership and continue to support them. Clear Creek Community Church campers were the only campers on-site during this time.”

paul biles, executive director, tejas camp & retreat

“Like many camps in Texas, we are adhering to the state guidelines and working alongside our church partners to minimize the risk of any illness in the camp environment,” he said, adding: “Camp Tejas continues to monitor its staff’s health and will continue to employ testing and safety procedures consistent with those set forth by the state and CDC recommendations.”

GCHD officials encourage camp attendees who feel sick or have come in close contact with someone with a confirmed COVID-19 case get tested and self-isolate while awaiting results. District officials also encouraged those who are unvaccinated continue wearing face coverings and social distancing, including children.

“In this outbreak, at least as of now, it appears most of the people who have tested positive are old enough to be vaccinated,” Keiser said. “These vaccines are safe, effective and they offer the best protection against COVID-19 to you, your family and your community.”

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