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Don't Be Spooked: Tips for Staying Safe on Halloween

| Date Posted: 10/7/2020

Dr. Gretchen Arnoczy (hot dog costume), a FirstHealth infectious diseases specialist,
poses with her family for Halloween a few years ago. The following letter penned by Dr. Arnoczy offers
some helpful tips to have fun this Halloween while staying safe.


A letter from Gretchen Arnoczy, M.D., infectious diseases specialist:

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed down everything in March, I remember friends who were worried about Halloween. HALLOWEEN. 


Many of them were concerned about whether or not Halloween would happen. Trust me, I get it. I love Halloween too. Fast forward to October - we're still not back to full-time in-person school, still not back to regular life, and Halloween is upon us. This year we even get Halloween on a Saturday AND there's a full moon. 


I am an infectious diseases specialist. I have been taking care of COVID-19 patients. I'm also a mom of three kids. And I am excited for Halloween.

Gretchen Arnoczy, M.D.


Trick or treating is always one of our favorite activities. It’s a great excuse to get out and see our neighbors, and our kids love costumes and candy. Trick or treating has been considered a higher risk activity by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but with some common sense and good manners, I think it can be done safely.


It's outside, costumes can incorporate a mask, and the majority of the risk is at the moment of interaction between the candy giver and the candy receiver. In my neighborhood, and I assume many others, a decent number of my neighbors are older, and therefore higher risk. We want to have fun but we want to be careful!


My kids and I have a plan. When we visit a house, we are going to put the candy bucket on the doorstep, ring the doorbell and then back up so we are more than 6 feet away. When our neighbors open the door my costumed kids can twirl around and show off their costumes, yell "trick or treat!" and then wait while a treat is deposited in the bucket.


Our neighbors get to see the cute costumes, they leave behind a goodie and my kids will grab the bucket after our neighbors close the door. But you might say, 'What if the candy provider has COVID? What if they're distributing candy and COVID particles?' If you know you have COVID-19, you shouldn't turn the porch light on. If you KNOW you have COVID-19, you should isolate


If someone has COVID-19 but doesn't know it AND they wear a mask AND they sanitize their hands between candy distributions AND they stay 6 feet away, the chance of transmission is low. COVID-19 doesn't live long on surfaces, so my kids are unlikely to get it from touching a wrapped piece of candy. We will use hand sanitizer just in case.


Other tips? Keep your trick or treating groups small. If you usually go to a big neighborhood with lots of people, consider talking to your neighbors about trick or treating close to home this year to avoid the crowds.


See? Trick or treating. We got this.

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