State Reassessing Summer Camps Opening in Light of New Inflammatory Disease in Children

Robert Mujica, NYS budget director, responding about summer camps during today’s press conference. (Screencap Governor’s Office)

At Sunday morning’s daily coronavirus press conference, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and his staff discussed the emerging guidelines for the opening of summer camps in New York State.

In response to a reporter’s question regarding the camp, Governor Cuomo first deferred to Robert Majica, the state budget director, who responded by stating that in light of the new cases of Kawasaki-like inflammatory disease that has presented itself in children, with New York State reporting over 100 such cases, there is a need to reassess the possibility of allowing the camps to open.

“With the new cases that are arising with children, we are relooking at those guidelines, and other states around us who were moving to open summer camps have slowed down that process,” Mr. Mujica said. “We do have guidelines for child care, but as far as camps where you have people sleeping away, how you do that in the context of the new cases, we are [still] looking at that. Generally they open at the end of June, so we will get guidance out and a decision way before that.”

Governor Cuomo then added that although there are only 120 cases that are being investigated at this time in New York, he believes that it is a syndrome which we are just discovering, and there are 16 states and 5 other countries which have said they have seen such cases as well.

“I think the numbers are going to be much, much higher,” the governor said. “And we need to know that as a society. We’ve been told that children are not effected, and we’ve been operating on that basis as far as summer camps. If you now change your facts again and say children may be effected, not with the traditional COVID respiratory illness but they may have this more serious inflammatory illness, which can be a heart disease issue, that’s a different set of facts. We have to respond to the facts, and it’s especially tricky if the facts change.”

Dr. Howard Zucker, the NYS Commissioner of the Department of Health, added that to date the number of cases across the country is over 200.

When asked if this could affect the opening of schools in the fall, Governor Cuomo responded that no one really knows the answer.” Nobody knows what the effect [of the virus] can be on children. I think we discovered this. I believe it is only 100 kids until you look, and I think that number is going to go up. The good news about schools is the fall is a “lifetime” away, [but] for summer camps it is relevant.”

“On the summer camps issue, and all children related issues, it’s really important for us to get the facts, is 100 kids an anomaly, or is it just the tip of the iceberg, and that represents thousands of kids that had this reaction,” said the governor as he ended that portion of his press conference.

The discussion seems to indicate that the state Health Department is taking a new look at the effect of COVID-19 on children, and will try to release guidelines for summer camps before the camp season begins at the end of June.

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