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October 27, 2021

How to trick-or-treat safely, according to public health experts

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    CDC Director Rochelle Walensky during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday" encouraged Americans to go outside and enjoy Halloween celebrations this year.

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    Americans can enjoy trick-or-treating this year

    Last Halloween, CDC advised against many traditional activities, saying that things like door-to-door trick-or-treating, attending indoor parties or haunted attractions, and wearing costume masks would likely pose a high risk of coronavirus transmission.

    However, the agency has issued different guidance this year that does not explicitly recommend against those activities. Instead, CDC is emphasizing the importance of vaccination against Covid-19 for all eligible individuals and encouraging people to mask in high-transmission areas, among other suggestions.

    When asked about this weekend's Halloween celebrations in particular, Walensky told "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, "I would say put on those costumes, stay outside and enjoy your trick-or-treating." According to Walensky, if you're celebrating outside, you're safe—vaccinated or unvaccinated.

    However, Walensky cautioned that unvaccinated individuals should still be careful, even in outdoor settings. "I wouldn't gather in large settings outside ... like you're seeing in those football games, if you're unvaccinated, those kids [who] are unvaccinated," she said. "But if you're spread out doing your trick-or-treating, that should be very safe for your children."

    "So what I would say is get yourself vaccinated before you gather, it'll absolutely be safer if you're vaccinated. Any activity that is outdoors is safer than it is if it's indoors," Walensky added.  

    Separately, Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said, "[T]he delta surge of the summer has clearly turned a corner," citing declining infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, specifically in the South.

    For unvaccinated trick-or-treaters, Jha encouraged mask-wearing if entering a home to get candy. He added, "[E]specially with young kids, I wouldn't do a house party."

    That said, however, given the overall rates of vaccination and decline in Covid-19 cases, Jha believes that trick-or-treating should be safe this year. "Halloween may not be 100% normal, but let's say, very, very, very close to normal," he said. (Oshin, The Hill, 10/25; Miller, Providence Journal, 10/12)

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