HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital recommends more treats and less tricks this Halloween considering the real and increased presence of COVID-19 in our communities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls traditional trick-or-treating “high risk” for COVID-19 exposure.

HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Jennings says it’s important to remember the pandemic is still in place. “As the holidays approach, it’s easy to let our guards down, but it is still critically important to be physically distant, wear face coverings and stick close to home to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 and the flu, which is also ramping up now,” he says.

While traditional Halloween activities may look and feel different this year, based on each community’s celebration restrictions, there are alternative ways to keep the spooky holiday special.

A few trick-or-treating alternatives include:

  • Create a scavenger hunt around your backyard using flashlights to find hidden candy and other goodies.
  • Decorate an area in your house, turn on scary music, wear costumes and record a Halloween family greeting to share on social media or via text to friends and family.
  • Have a movie night watching some of mom or dad’s favorite Halloween classics; maybe “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”.
  • Play yard games like ladder golf, croquet and cornhole under the light of solar lights and this year’s full moon.
  • Host a virtual Halloween party to show off your costume and play virtual games.

Jennings says contact-less trick-or-treating is possible, if allowed in your area, by creating individual treat bags and leaving them on a table on your front walkways, sidewalks or any outdoor space that allows for at least 6 feet of social distance from the door. “It is important to remember that the person who is preparing the bags should always use good hand hygiene when putting the bag together, even though all of the treats should already be individually sealed,” he said.

Costume and traffic safety are also important. According to the National Safety Council, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. The organization recommends the following:

  • Use flashlights, glow sticks, and reflective tape on costumes so you are visible in the dark.
  • Stay on sidewalks, cross at designated intersections, and stay in well-lit areas.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be carried and used frequently.
  • Candy collected during trick-or-treating should not be consumed until after handwashing. As always, a parent/guardian should check all candy to make sure it is wrapped and discard any unwrapped candy.
  • Only trick-or-treat with people from your household.
  • Wear a cloth mask instead of plastic, latex or silicone. A costume mask, such as those worn for Halloween, is not a substitute for a face covering.

For more Halloween health and safety tips, check out the Illinois Department of Public Health’s guidance on their website at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/halloween-guidance. The National Safety Council also offers safety tips on their website at https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/autumn/halloween.

Before making any Halloween plans, check with your local health department, city or county government about local rules and regulations.

Media Contact

Andrew Dilbeck

HSHS Illinois
Office: 217-464-5610

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