How to stay safe from COVID-19 this spooky season

How to stay safe from COVID-19 this spooky season
(Source: WHSV)

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - For those who will be participating in Halloween festivities this week, it is important to make sure you are doing so safely.

Laura Lee Wight is the population health community coordinator for the Central Shenandoah Health District, and she says the only way to not get infected with COVID-19 is to avoid exposure altogether. But if you are going to go trick-or-treating, you need to take certain precautions.

“Consider limiting the number of houses that you go to,” Wight said. “Try not to be in a large group and before you go ahead and, you know, put your candy in your special candy bowl, make sure you’re washing your hands and try to avoid contact between yourself and the trick-or-treaters.”

Wight says some ways to do this would be to put multiple candy bowls at the end of your driveway or on your sidewalk, to allow people to stay distant. Or if you still want people coming to your door, you can create a candy chute that is at least six-feet long. She also says it is important to wash your hands or frequently use hand sanitizer while preparing candy, handing it out and trick-or-treating regardless if you are going house-to-house or car-to-car.

The Virginia Department of Health’s Halloween Guidelines, released Sept. 22, suggests everyone wear a mask at all times while participating in various Halloween festivities, and Wight says Halloween masks don’t cut it.

“Costume masks do not work in preventing the spread, or with inhalation of respiratory droplets because they might not fit snugly against the face, they might not cover the nose or mouth, they might have gaps or holes,” Wight said.

Wight says your should reconsider your look if your costume involves a mask, because wearing both a cloth and Halloween mask may make it hard to breathe.

She also suggests getting creative with a possible trick-or-treat alternative, such as hiding candy around the house or yard, as a candy scavenger hunt. This way, kids can still dress up and have fun, all while distant from crowds and those outside of the family.

The VDH’s Halloween Guidelines also outline the safety risks of other Halloween festivities, such as haunted houses, which Wight says could be a high risk activity. This is because while people scream, more respiratory droplets are excreted from the mouth, which could spread COVID-19 quicker and easier. Therefore, she says no matter the activity this spooky season, it is important to consistently wear a mask, and social distance when you can.

For a full look at the Virginia Department of Health’s Halloween Guidelines, click this link: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/182/2020/09/VDH-Interim-Guidance-for-Halloween-Events-2.pdf

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