How to make traditional Halloween, fall activities safe

Coronavirus
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — While scares are all in good fun on and around Halloween, doctors say they don’t want the pandemic to add to it.

In her briefing on Sept. 30, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that while it will look different this year, Halloween will happen this year in Rhode Island, even as health officials warned of elevated cases among younger adults.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance on holiday celebrations in advance of Halloween, noting that this and other fall holidays “will likely need to be different this fall to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.”

The CDC recommends avoiding activities that are higher risk for spread and to consider fun alternatives that pose a lower risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

High Risk Activities

The CDC says traditional trick-or-treating is considered a high risk activity on Halloween.

Rhode Island recently released Phase III guidance for fall activities, including tips for a safer Halloween. This includes keeping to groups of 15 or less, and to stick with the same 15 people, and groups must keep socially distant while wearing masks.

People offering candy from their homes are not allowed to open their doors to each trick-or-treater, but instead expected to leave out candy in bags, or spread pieces out on cookie sheets so children aren’t touching common areas.

People are expected to carry hand sanitizer, and if anyone is feeling sick, they must stay home, according to the R.I. Department of Health.

Dr. Silvia Chiang, an attending physician in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, says it’s a must to incorporate masks into Halloween costumes this year.

“If you wanted to be, let’s say, some sort of animal, maybe you can paint the animal’s mouth or the animal’s fangs on the cloth mask,” Chiang said.

But before you shop for a costume, she also wants parents and kids to know a Halloween mask is not a substitute for a cloth face covering or medical style mask recommended by the CDC.

“We’re not sure how well those plastic masks or masks or other materials protect yourself and protect other people from coronavirus transmission,” Chiang said.

CDC guidance also notes to not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask, because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe.

Indoor haunted houses are also listed as a high risk activity.

“It’s designed to make people scared, so there may be a lot of screaming and if there are a lot of people inside screaming, then that could increase the transmission of coronavirus,” Chiang said.

Chiang says if you normally put on a haunted house, consider making it a haunted forest this year.

The CDC says if screaming is likely, to keep participants even farther away than six feet.

Attending crowded Halloween parties indoors is also listed as another high risk activity.

State leaders are trying to crack down on spread among Rhode Island students, as younger adults accounted for the largest proportion of new coronavirus cases in September.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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