October 29, 2020
Media Contact: Laura Lee Wight, population health community coordinator, Central Shenandoah Health District, 540-332-7830, ext. 344
Plan to Celebrate Halloween Safely in Central Shenandoah!
(STAUNTON, Va.) — Halloween is a time to have fun while pretending to be scary, or scared. Unfortunately, this year is time to be more cautious than usual, as many traditional Halloween activities carry a significant risk of exposure to COVID-19. The Virginia Department of Health recommends this year that ghosts and goblins consider celebrating differently, and ask that you please celebrate safely.
“Remember that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 increases with the more people you are with, the more air that you share and the more items that you touch,” said Laura Kornegay, M.D., director of the Central Shenandoah Health District. “The scariest thing this Halloween is COVID-19, which can be spread when people talk or simply breathe. Shouting, laughing and screaming just spread it further. As much as we want to be together with friends, we must do so carefully, in order to prevent the spread of this deadly illness.”
Generally, the closer people are together and the longer the time, the greater the risk. To reduce that risk:
- Watch your distance. Avoid close contact – closer than six feet – with people who do not live with you.
- Wear a cloth face covering – a Halloween mask is NOT a substitute.
- Wash your hands frequently and well.
The best way to avoid becoming infected is to avoid being exposed to the virus altogether.
Some Halloween activities are safer; some pose higher risk. The highest risk activities – that are not recommended – include traditional trick-or-treating door-to-door, trunk-or-treating with cars lined up in parking lots or enclosed spaces, hayrides or tractor rides and any large or close gatherings. “Remember that indoors is always more risky than outside, so crowded indoor costume parties and indoor haunted houses are especially dangerous this year,” said Dr. Kornegay.
Moderate risk activities – that should be done with extreme caution, while maintaining distance and wearing face coverings – include one-way trick-or-treating with individually wrapped treats, outdoor costume parties or outdoor Halloween movie night.
Lower risk activities include carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household, decorating your house or yard, a scavenger hunt or a virtual costume contest.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, a positive test in the past 10 days or contact in the past 14 days with someone who tested positive, it’s important to stay home and not infect others. Please do not participate in trick-or-treating this year.
“Of course, it’s up to each person and family to make the safest decisions about celebrating Halloween this year,” said Dr. Kornegay. “However you celebrate, remember the 3 Ws (watch your distance, wear a cloth face covering, wash hands), protect yourself and others and celebrate safely!”
For more information about COVID-19 and holiday safety, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/schools-workplaces-community-locations/social-gatherings/ and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/halloween.html. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.
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