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HHS: ‘Follow CDC guidelines this Halloween’

With Halloween around the corner, Mower County Health and Human Services is advising Mower County residents to follow CDC guidelines when it comes to celebrating during the pandemic.

“Outside activities are less riskier than indoor activities and people should wear a face covering if they can’t distance themselves by six feet,” said Community Health Division Manager Pam Kellogg.

The CDC has ranked various activities from lower to higher risk. Those activities deemed “lower risk” include:

• Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them;

• Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends;

• Decorating your house, apartment, or living space;

• Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance;

• Having a virtual Halloween costume contest;

• Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with; and

• Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.

Activities deemed as “moderate risk” include:

• Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard). If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 second before and after preparing the bags;

• Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart;

• Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart. A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face. Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask;

• Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart. If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus;

• Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing; and

• Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart.

Activities deemed as “higher risk” include:

• Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door;

• Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots;

• Attending crowded costume parties held indoors;

• Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming;

• Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household;

• Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors; and

• Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

It is unknown how the pandemic will affect those participating in passing out candy to trick-or-treaters. According to Austin Hy-Vee Store Manager Dylan Passe, candy sales this year are about the same or a little more as the same time last year.

“This is our week to really find out how much we’re going to do because the last week of October is the biggest time for it,” Passe said.

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