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Halloween Could Be Scary During COVID-19 — But It Can Also Be Fun & Safe

Oct. 20, 2020 - Patti Muck

An invisible monster with a spiky crown and mutant offspring haunts Halloween this year, but coronavirus won't ruin the holiday if you follow safety tips and preserve the spirit of Halloween in fun, festive, healthy and new ways.

"We can continue to celebrate Halloween, it just will be different this year," says Dr. Shari Rubin, primary care and internal medicine specialist at Houston Methodist, and mother of three huge Halloween fans, ages 6, 8 and 10. "While there's wonderful comfort in tradition, there's fun and excitement in the new."

Dr. Rubin has a Little Mermaid and a Harry Potter who chose their costumes over the summer. Her undecided child is eagerly weighing his options. All of them, though, will wear their COVID-19 masks with their costumes if they go outside — and they won't be walking the streets of their neighborhood this year, she says.

"I'm thinking about a candy hunt in our house and maybe an online costume party," says Dr. Rubin. "Our children's lives have already changed because of COVID-19. Some are doing virtual school, they're going to drive-by birthday parties. So, in that respect they're used to it. But if we make sure to acknowledge the holiday and help our children plan different, creative activities, it can still be fun."

She encourages parents to look at science-based websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Harvard Global Health Institute's Halloween 2020 interactive website that includes a color-coded map of danger levels in communities across the country. Houston and Harris County are considered level orange, the second-highest risk rate in the U.S. — indicating that we need to be especially vigilant in guarding against the spread of the virus.

"This means we need to be consistent with our social distancing, masking and our hand washing," adds Dr. Rubin. "And your Halloween mask does not count as a COVID mask. If you have a plastic or rubber mask as part of your costume and you go out in public, you will have to wear your cloth or surgical mask — even if it doesn't match."

Here are some Halloween safety tips for 2020:

DO:

  • Wear a cloth or ear loop mask
  • Stay 6 feet away from others outside your household
  • Wash your hands — a lot
  • Take and eat only prepackaged, individually wrapped candy
  • Stay in your own house or backyard
  • Look at research-based websites like the CDC or Halloween 2020 for safe alternates to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating

DON'T:

  • Mix and mingle in your neighborhood (kids will want to play; adults will want to talk)
  • Go door-to-door to trick or treat
  • Hand out candy at your door
  • Think your Halloween mask is a COVID mask — wear both

IDEAS:

  • Plan a virtual costume contest on Instagram with friends and neighbors
  • Go to a drive-in movie
  • Have a candy hunt and/or scavenger hunt in your own home or backyard

 

Concerned you may have COVID-19?

  • If you're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can speak to a Virtual Urgent Care provider 24/7. The provider will help you determine if testing is needed and advise you on where you should go.
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