OHIO — Officials have identified more than 70 COVID-19 infections after an outbreak at a Baptist church retreat in Miamisburg, Ohio, officials said Tuesday.

What You Need To Know

  • The case count increased to more than 70, officials said Tuesday

  • The outbreak occurred at a Baptist church retreat in Ohio

  • Attendees traveled to the retreat from multiple states

The outbreak occurred at Camp Chautauqua, where 800 people had gathered for the June 27 to July 3 retreat, according to Public Health–Dayton & Montgomery County.

The camp offers outdoor recreation and facilities that can accommodate large group retreats.

Officials announced the outbreak on Monday and reported that at least 30 people contracted COVID-19. The confirmed infections are among residents of Ohio and Kentucky, but the retreat also included attendees from churches in Illinois and Indiana.

The camp issued a statement that said it became aware of an infection when an individual tested positive on July 1.

Engage Ministries, a group that organizes religious experiences for students and student ministries, was at the camp for its Ohio retreat that week.

After the positive test, camp staffers were all tested for COVID-19, and mitigation protocols were implemented, Chautauqua Camp and Conference Center President Jason Harmeyer​ said.

Event organizers have not been fully cooperative with Public Health, making contact tracing more difficult, officials said.

“Since camp and event organizers failed to respond to Public Health for several days after the initial cases were recognized, and have not provided contact information for attendees, accordingly, Public Health is asking anyone who may have attended the event to contact Public Health or their local health department,” officials said Monday.

In the statement, Harmeyer said Chautauqua has had no additional positive cases at the camp since the retreat ended. He said that they were working with multiple health departments.

Public Health spokesperson Dan Suffoletto said there is high potential for transmission with an extended event such as a retreat. Attendees may have worn masks for parts of the retreat, but during meals or in the dorms at night, people were in close quarters unmasked, he said.

Health officials are working to limit further spread in the areas where attendees traveled back home, he said.

“If someone went to the camp and then traveled home to Kentucky and then subsequently got COVID, they may not necessarily get back with the camp and tell them that, because it’s really about the people that went to the event and not the camp specifically,” Suffoletto said.

The 10 confirmed cases from Montgomery County and Butler County were among unvaccinated people, he said.

A church pastor who took youth on a trip to the camp earlier in the summer said that his church felt it was appropriate because Gov. Mike DeWine had reopened the state.

“We just allowed them to sign up their child just like normal. And if they had hesitancies with COVID, we didn’t try to talk them into it,” senior pastor at Assurance Baptist Church Bryson Thompson said. “We just felt like it was a really good time to get our children back together in the spirit of the Lord, but also just in fellowship together and get to hang out.”​

Spectrum News Reporter Katie Kapusta contributed reporting to this story.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with comments from Public Health–Dayton & Montgomery County and Bryson Thompson, the senior pastor at Assurance Baptist Church. (July 14, 2021)