CDC Halloween guidelines warn about high risk activities

CDC Halloween guidelines warn about high risk activities

The FINANCIAL -- As many people in the United States begin to plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations, CDC offers the considerations to help protect individuals, their families, friends, and communities from COVID-19. The considerations are meant to supplement—not replace—any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which holiday gatherings must comply.

Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household pose low risk for spread. In-person gatherings pose varying levels of risk. Event organizers and attendees should consider the risk of virus spread based on event size and use of mitigation strategies, as outlined in the Considerations for Events and Gatherings. There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with the virus that causes COVID-19 at a holiday celebration.

In combination, these factors will create various amounts of risk, so it is important to consider them individually and together: Community levels of COVID-19; The location of the gathering; The duration of the gathering; The number of people at the gathering; The locations attendees are traveling from; The behaviors of attendees prior/during to the gathering.

Los Angeles tried banning trick-or-treating this year and putting the kibosh on Halloween parties and carnivals and haunted houses, as well. But it changed course after a public outcry, and the new guidance says going door to door is "not recommended" as "it can be very difficult to maintain proper social distancing" and "because sharing food is risky." New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he doesn't intend to ban trick-or-treating, but he plans to give parents some guidance to ponder before they take their kids out. "If you want to go for a walk with your child through the neighborhood, I'm not going to tell you you can't take your child to the neighborhood,” Cuomo said. "I'll give you my advice and guidance, and then you will make a decision what you do that nightm” as reported by NBC News.

Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses. There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween. If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters. These lower risk activities can be safe alternatives:

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

Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

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

Thanksgiving is a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together. Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved. Lower risk activities include:

  • Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
  • Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others
  • Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home

Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
  • Attending crowded parades
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household

Large indoor celebrations with singing or chanting are considered higher risk events that should be avoided, as are crowded indoor gatherings, large dinner parties with people from different households and travelers from other locations. "When planning to host a holiday celebration, you should assess current COVID-19 levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel, or limit the number of attendees," the CDC warned, according to CNN.

It is also noteworthy that new data from CDC show that adult obesity prevalence is increasing and racial and ethnic disparities persist. Notably, adults with obesity are at heightened risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19. The United States has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world. Twelve US states now have obesity rates of at least 35 percent - more than ever before, a new map reveals. In addition to the maps, CDC has released a summary statement on obesity and race and ethnicity as related to COVID-19 risk. Obesity worsens outcomes from COVID-19, increasing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Obesity disproportionately impacts some racial and ethnic minority groups who are also at increased risk of COVID-19. Read more.

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Author: The FINANCIAL