Upstate doctor weighs in on Halloween color-coded coronavirus risk map

National News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — What will Halloween look like this year? One thing’s for sure, it will no doubt be different than years past.

Halloween 2020 converges with a full moon, a blue moon, Daylight Saving Time — and it falls on a Saturday.

Of course, the holiday is also happening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This month, the Halloween and Costume Association (HCA) issued resources and an interactive map to help families stay safe this Halloween.

The HCA created an interactive map on its website with color-coded risk levels for each county throughout the country. There are four risk levels: green, yellow, orange, and red — with green representing the least amount of risk and red being the most. The colors are based on the current COVID-19 case and death count data.

Graphic courtesy Harvard Global Health Institute

One of the group’s committee members, R.J. Torbert, said they worked with the CDC and the Harvard Global Health Institute.

It’s almost a perfect way to celebrate based on the guidelines. You’re outdoors, you’re wearing a mask, and you can social distance. We ask everybody, follow the guidelines and use good common sense.

R.J. Torbert – Committee Member, Halloween Costume Association

Dr. Jana Shaw, a Pediatric Infectious Diseases specialist at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, has also weighed in.

Dr. Shaw said the biggest thing people can do is wear a mask when they can’t social distance, and stay outside. “They should keep it outdoors at all times and at all costs and they should avoid crowds,” she said.

The two main things Dr. Shaw wants everyone to avoid are parties and haunted houses.

"In terms of haunted houses they are very high risk activity. Haunted houses are structures that are closed where people gather in a crowded manor. People scream and yell and get very excited, and those are all conditions where we expel germs and are likely to transmit the virus to others," said Dr. Shaw.

The HCA also released recommended activities based on the risk zone:

Green Zone

In the green zone, HCA says trick or treating can proceed normally, as long as social distancing guidelines are in place. Small parties with close friends are OK as well.

Yellow Zone

In the yellow zone, trick or treating is still possible, but HCA says to make sure the places you are visiting follow safety protocols so you can stay safe. Any partygoers should be wearing face masks indoors.

Orange Zone

In the orange zone, HCA recommends “trick or treat in reverse!” This means that kids can get dressed up in their favorite costumes and hang out in their front yards, and neighbors can walk or drive by and deliver candy to kids. Parties should be outdoors only with social distancing guidelines followed.

Red Zone

In the red zone, trick or treating is not recommended. HCA says there are too many risks involved. Instead, they recommend Zoom parties, Netflix parties, and setting up candy stations inside and outside of the house for kids to discover throughout the night.

HCA advises that you use the map to make sure your county is safe and follow social distancing guidelines.


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