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Health Experts Advise Against Traditional Halloween Activities


*VPM News Intern Clara  Haizlett reported this story

Health experts locally and nationally are advising families to not participate in traditional Halloween activities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent guidelines highlight trick-or-treating as “high-risk” and recommend that people who may have been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19 avoid all in-person festivities. 

Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough says her two “little ones” love trick-or-treating, but her family decided it would be safer to skip it this year. As the medical director of the Mother Infant Unit and a general pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU, she recommends other families consider making the same choice. 

We get around 300 trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood,” Kimbrough said. “So you think about that many kids all piling up and all trying to get into that one single candy dish, you’re really thinking about sharing a lot of airspace and making it very difficult to social distance properly.” 

If families do choose to trick-or-treat, the CDC suggests that children wash their hands before eating any candy. Families should also stay at least six feet apart from people they don’t live with. 

Additionally, children over two years old should wear a cloth face mask -- not a costume mask.

“We shouldn't put that costume mask on top of the cloth mask,” Kimbrough says. “It may be difficult for little kids to breathe properly if they've got a double mask going on.” 

The CDC guidelines also advise people handing out treats to avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters. Instead, they should set up an outdoor station where kids can pick up individually bagged items.

Kimbrough says families should try safer alternative activities, like reverse trick-or-treating. That’s where kids stay in their driveways and adults drive through the neighborhood, tossing out candy.  

“I think the best way to frame this from a parent's standpoint is not to think of it as a loss,” Kimbrough said. “But more to just try to frame it as these are new memories we’re making, this is something fun and different we’re doing this year.”

Other ideas include an outdoor costume contest, a visit to a corn maze or a Halloween treat hunt. 

For more information and ideas for alternative activities, visit the Children's Hospital of Richmond’s  blog.

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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