Surviving Halloween’s Real Ghouls and Goblins of 2020

America's hallowed streets and dark alleys have a new creature of terror to beware of this Halloween holiday – COVID-19 and the arrival of the yearly flu virus.

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America’s hallowed streets and dark alleys have a new creature of terror to beware of this Halloween holiday – COVID-19 and the arrival of the yearly flu virus. Neighborhoods across America may be slithering with these silent monsters, lurking not only in the shadows, but in the air we breathe, the surfaces we touch, and the doors we knock as we tempt the haunted and wake the dead with the ghastly groans and wicked screams of “trick-or-treat.”

With ‘All-Hallows Eve’ just days away, it’s easy to momentarily forget the scares of 2020. Safety tips for this celebration use to include advice such as not eating fruits or un-wrapped candies received during trick-or-treating, being careful when crossing streets, and staying close to family members and friends. In recent days, neighborhood kids would gather together and roam the homes they know like zombies in a possessed search of sugary sweets.

However, this year is frighteningly different. It pains me to say yet again that the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a shadow on another celebrated American pastime making the entire country feel, at times, like one giant haunted house. The poltergeist of COVID-19 still lingers and levitates in our every thought and every action outside the home.

California State Senator and pediatrician Dr. Richard Pan says that if at all possible, perhaps howling at home or reanimating Halloween this year is the way to go. According to Dr. Pan, COVID-19 is still prowling, and the impact it may have on children is still unknown. We should not continue to let this virus soil our spirits, but the need to be safe for yourself and others should be a high priority. In the spirit of celebrating safely, Dr. Pan offers the following COVID-19-related safety tips.

Dr. Pan advises parents that if they choose to Trick-or-Treat, to remember they have a personal responsibility to themselves, their kids, and others.  For households passing out candy, don’t be creeped out, be a W.I.T.C.H.:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before you touch your face, particularly your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Insist on proper social distancing by creating lines with tape or chalk outside your door.
  • Treat everyone with kindness. Use gentle reminders to encourage safe behavior.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth mask when you are greeting people.
  • Hold out candy on a table or tray to avoid having people coming within 6 feet of you. If possible, clean the tray with disinfectant between groups.

Dr. Pan says that for Trick-or-Treaters: Don’t be frozen with fear, instead be a G.H.O.S.T.:

  • Go trick or treating only with people in your family/household.
  • Have a cloth mask over your nose and mouth; make it a fun part of your costume!
  • Observe local health rules to ensure you comply with recommended safety protocols.
  • Six feet of distance (minimum) between trick or treating groups, and please don’t shout.
  • Tell children the rules before you start.  Make sure they understand and can follow them.

Dr. Pan’s final piece of advice that everyone (except the living dead and jack-o-lanterns) should remember: FLU BEFORE BOO! Fall and winter seasons are frighteningly known for flu season, and we typically start to see an increase in influenza activity around October with peaks between December and February. That said, people want to be ready before flu season starts, so Dr. Pan encourages parents and trick-or-treaters to “flu before boo!” and get their flu vaccines now.

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