Dr Gelman

Health Commissioner Provides Guidance on Celebrating Halloween

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Orange County Commissioner of Health Dr. Irina Gelman has issued the following statement about Halloween and Trick-or-Treating as well as Día de los Muertos celebrations:

Like so many other things, our Halloween celebrations will look different this year. The local impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in 13,129 confirmed cases as well as 503 deaths to date in Orange County. Of those cases, close to 45% have been in individuals 18-44 years of age, with the second largest number of confirmed cases in the 45-64 age group (35%).

      We continue to see new COVID-19 positive resident cases in Orange County daily, as well as a persistence increase in newly lab confirmed cases. While children account for about 5% of the total cases, this virus is completely new and although some symptoms are common among those suffering from the illness, the complete list of symptoms, as well as long term complications remain unknown. 

      The CDC deemed traditional trick or treating a high-risk activity. In light of this, the Orange County Department of Health DOES NOT recommend traditional trick-or-treating, parades, in person parties/gatherings, or the traditional trunk-or-treat festivities that are the usual Halloween fare.

      COVID-19 cases are increasing in Orange County, Rockland County, and parts of New York City and therefore Orange County is recommending more restrictions than the rest New York State. Likewise, traditional festivals and gatherings for Día de los Muertos should be limited to household members only, with the incorporated safety precautions. Always follow all local, state and federal COVID-19 safety guidelines. For further information about the CDC guidelines, and what activities are low, moderate, or high risk, visit their website:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.

      Here are some alternatives to consider along with family celebrations.

Recommended Activities

      Masks: Halloween is the perfect holiday for creative mask wearing. Don’t let a costume mask be a substitute for a cloth or surgical mask. Wear a COVID mask and don’t wear another mask over that mask.

      Drive Through Trunk-or-Treat:  Trunk-or-treat celebrations may be planned as a drive through where kids hold the candy bags outside the car and participants (fully masked and gloved) place the pre-bagged individual treats into the bag.

      Family Party: Create different themes for rooms throughout your house and send the kids on a scavenger hunt for fun swag. Hide candy, toys and prizes or even make some gift certificates to stay up late, choose the movie or eat an extra piece of candy. Keep the big kids engaged by including QR codes and pic challenges! Find inspiration in Halloween movies, music and more.

Virtual Parties: Go onto your Next-door App and help coordinate a neighborhood Zoom party complete with games, scary stories and a costume contest. Try some Halloween Karaoke! Whether you are pulling off a tribute to Thriller or takin’ it back to the old school with some Monster Mash.

      Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF: UNICEF USA is launching a virtual Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF platform and through the month of October; add purpose to Halloween by collecting lifesaving donations for UNICEF virtually. Sign up today at www.trickortreatforunicef.org.

      The Orange County Department of Health Does NOT Recommend: Trick-or-Treating, In-Person Parties and Social Gatherings.

      Safety Guidelines for Trick-or-Treaters: Stay home if sick. Trick-or-treat with people you live with. Remain six feet apart from people not in your household. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Wear a face covering for BOTH your mouth and nose.  Hand sanitize (with sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol) frequently while out, especially during key times like before eating or after coughing/sneezing. Wash your hands when returning home and before you enjoy the candy.

      Safety Guidelines for Homeowners:  Do not hand out candy if you are sick.  Wear a face covering over BOTH your mouth and nose.  Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Consider alternative ways to hand out candy, such as a drive-by or leaving candy spread out on a disinfected table.

      If participating in handing out candy from your front door, consider the following:  Use duct tape or chalk to mark six-foot lines in front of home and leading to driveway/front door. Position a distribution table between yourself and trick or treaters. If you are not comfortable handing out candy, consider leaving out individually portioned candy or turn off your lights.

For additional resources and information visit https://www.halloween2020.org/ and  https://www.orangecountygov.com/1936/Coronavirus.

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