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Doctor’s guide to Halloween and COVID-19

Photo: Getty Images

By Carter Coyle | October 12, 2020 at 5:49 PM EDT - Updated October 12 at 5:50 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Experts say the idea of Halloween this year is extra scary when you think about strangers interacting in the middle of the COVID pandemic.

One of the most traditional parts of Halloween is for kids to go door to door, showing off costumes and gathering candy from each house.

But the very nature of trick or treating goes against many of the COVID precautions we’ve all be taking for months.

“I advise against door to door trick or treating,” Dr. Melissa Ellis-Yarian with Roper St. Francis Healthcare said. “The CDC has been clearthat door to door trick or treating or going to an indoor haunted house where there’s a lot of people together screaming or yelling? Things like that are going to spread COVID 19. And the community as a whole will suffer.”

Dr. Ellis-Yarian says there are other ways to celebrate Halloween that minimize the risk of spread.

“If you have some family or a few close friends- a small group - that you can arrange something outside where everyone can social distance. You can still have candy for the kids, everyone can dress up. Incorporate your face mask into your costume and make it fun for them,” she said.

But she and the CDC warn not to rely on a regular Halloween mask for protection.

Kids and adults still need to use a CDC-approved face mask covering the nose and mouth.

“It’s been so wonderful to see children for the most part don’t become severely ill and aren’t the main demographic that is dying from COVID 19,” Dr. Ellis-Yarian said. “But research has shown children are vectors for COVID 19. They are very much a part of the spread. It’s really important for parents to respect that.”

The CDC has these suggestions for giving out treats more safely:

  • -Avoid direct contact with the kids
  • -Give the treats outdoors
  • -Set up a station with individually bagged treats
  • -Wash hands frequently and bring hand sanitizer
  • -Wear a CDC-approved face mask

As for the COVID virus clinging to candy wrappers?

“It is still possible to transmit on surfaces. It’s not as likely as transmitting with respiratory droplets,” Dr. Ellis-Yarian said.

These suggestions go for all gatherings as we get closer to the holiday season.

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