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ADPH recommends Halloween coronavirus precautions

Protecting families, friends and communities from contracting and spreading the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is a major concern for Alabama families in 2020. Consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, the Alabama Department of Public Health is encouraging families to find safe alternative activities to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating this Halloween.

As has been the case since the coronavirus set in locally in March, quarantine guidelines take first precedence.

People who have COVID-19 or who have been exposed to someone with the virus should not participate in in-person Halloween activities. Anyone exposed to COVID-19 within the past 14 days, or who is showing symptoms, should remain at home.

People at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should also stay home.

According to the ADPH, children can enjoy limited trick-or-treating provided parents assess the risks of each activity, take precautions and carefully supervise. Adults need to emphasize the importance of consistent hand hygiene, proper mask wearing and social distancing where people can remain 6 feet apart or more. Avoiding large, crowded groups is important.

Although trick-or-treating can be a safe option with proper precautions in place, the ADPH is encouraging everyone to weigh the risks and consider alternative ways to celebrate.

The main indicator for limiting the risk of COVID-19 spread in the community is the number of days a county has a downward trend of new cases. Franklin County’s current risk level, which can be monitored on the ADPH COVID-19 Risk Indicator Dashboard at https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/, is “high,” with seven to 13 days of declining cases.

ADPH’s recommended Halloween activities are grouped according to the risk levels associated with each:

Higher Risk

·        Traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating with shared candy bowls

·        Trunk-or-treating events

·        Crowded indoor events such as haunted houses and costume contests

Moderate Risk

·        No-touch trick-or-treating, such as candy chutes

·        Goodie bags placed outside for pickup

·        Outdoor, distanced costume parade

·        Outdoor, distanced movie night

Lower Risk

·        Pumpkin carving at home with family

·        Outdoor, distanced pumpkin carving with friends

·        Decorating at home

·        Outdoor scavenger hunt in neighborhood

·        Virtual costume contest

·        Movie night with family

Traditional injury prevention and health precautions for Halloween trick-or-treating hold true in 2020, as well. As always, responsible adult supervision is key with trick-or-treating. Safety measures to take beforehand, during and after trick-or-treating include the following:

·        Be sure costumes, wigs and accessories are flame-resistant.

·        Wear protective face coverings made up of two or more layers of breathable fabric instead of a costume mask. Face coverings can be decorated with themes, too.

·        Add reflective tape to costumes.

·        Do not wear decorative contact lenses; they can cause eye injuries.

·        Be careful to prevent accidental cuts when carving pumpkins.

·        Make sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles.

·        Never walk near lit candles or luminaries and avoid distraction from electronic devices.

·        Keep candle-lit Jack-o’-lanterns away from doorsteps, walkways, landings and curtains.

·        Prepare grab-and-go goodie bags for no touch pickup outside.

·        Consider providing non-food treats such as crayons and coloring books.

·        Examine treats for choking hazards before allowing them to be consumed.

·        Limit the amount of sugary and sticky candies consumed.

The ADPH recommends visiting https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/halloween.html for additional recommendations.

In Franklin County, community Halloween events include the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce’s Trunk or Treat Oct. 31 from 5-6 p.m. in downtown Russellville and Northwest-Shoals Community College’s drive-through trunk-or-treat event Oct. 26 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

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