Some Halloween activities could increase COVID-19 risk, CDC warns

Wake County News

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) — Halloween traditionally means trick-or-treating, costume parties, and haunted houses, but this year the Centers for Disease Control says some of those activities could raise the risk of getting COVID-19.  

“It’s just the amount of interpersonal contact that happens,” explained Dr. Michael Steiner, the pediatrician in chief at UNC Children’s Hospital. “I think about small children, sometimes hundreds of small children in some communities in the Triangle area, going and seeing 50 or 60 different people in their homes. When you start multiplying those numbers together, it turns into a huge exposure risk.”  

The CDC says higher risk activities include crowded indoor costume parties, traditional trick-or-treating, large “trunk-or-treat” events in which vehicles are parked and children go from car to car to collect candy. 

Moderate-risk activities include one-way trick-or-treating – where bags of candy are lined up away from a home for children to pick up while maintaining a safe distance, and small outdoor parades or costume parties with masks and social distancing.  

Activities with people within a household pose a lower risk, according to the CDC, which also suggests pumpkin carving with friends or neighbors outdoors at a safe distance or a scavenger hunt, in which children look for Halloween decorations on various houses while keeping their distance from the homes.      

Doctors say people should not forget safety guidelines even while celebrating. 

 “Dress up in costumes but continue to wear your mask, wash your hands, and stay six feet away from people,” said Steiner.  

It’s been a tough year for children, and many are looking forward to Halloween, including Matthew Ogden of Wake Forest.

“You get to dress up in costumes and you get to go get loads of candy. Last Halloween I got like a bucket load of candy,” he said, proudly.

Still, the Wake Forest second-grader understands this year will be different.

“There’s coronavirus so germs can spread very easily,” he added.  

Matthew’s mom says the family will still celebrate, while taking precautions.

“If we are with friends, try to stay apart a little bit,” explained mom Liza Ogden, adding, “Be outside… in the cul-de-sac, try to get some treats that way – try to have a little fun, but be safe.” 

The CDC has a list of higher, moderate, and lower risk activities here. 

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