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Will COVID-19 scare people away from celebrating Halloween?

This year, Halloween may feel especially scary, with the biggest monster of all — COVID-19.

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Halloween may feel especially scary this year. But since Halloween events are usually outdoors and many people wear masks as part of their costume, it could be the most normal thing we do all year.

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Experts believe the pandemic will continue to stick around this fall. That means we'll still have to follow rules about social distancing and big gatherings. So how does that impact Halloween parties? And, will it be safe for kids to go trick-or-treating?

“If we keep seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, traditional trick-or-treating may be risky this year,” said Efrem Castillo, MD, senior medical director at Optum. “Parents should check with their state health departments. Be ready with a back-up plan.”

There is no evidence of the virus being passed through packaging or food, Dr. Castillo said. But parents should take the normal precautions they do every year when their children bring home bags of treats. (See below.)

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Also, Halloween is on a Saturday this year. How about planning a few smaller events throughout the day instead of one large party? Be creative in starting new traditions. This will help everyone feel comfortable, with little or no contact among non-household members.

Tips for a fun and healthy Halloween

Here are some ways to keep everyone happy and safe this Halloween season:

  • Plan a drive-by trick-or-treating event with your neighborhood. Ask people to decorate their cars, drive by and gently throw candy at costumed kids in their yards. This keeps high-risk people safe while still seeing kids in their costumes. 
  • Host a Zoom pumpkin carving or costume contest.
  • Bring out the glitter and glue gun and see who can make the scariest face mask.
  • Host a Halloween bike parade. 
  • Attend a "trunk-or-treat." This is usually held in a school or church parking lot. People decorate their vehicles and kids trick-or-treat from each car’s trunk.
  • Leave a bowl of candy and a bottle of hand sanitizer at the end of the driveway. Wave at kids from your front door.
  • Remember the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines about treats. Before your kids eat anything, take a good look at it. When you're back home, dump everything out. Throw away treats that aren’t wrapped. 
  • Masks are very important. Wear a cotton mask with multiple layers as part of every costume. 
  • Visit the CDC website for more Halloween safety tips.

No matter what you plan, have a ghostly good time and stay positive. Kids will be sure to remember the fun — not what they may have missed out on.

Will Medicare cover a COVID-19 screening?

Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no extra money. Medicare Advantage plans do, too. Check with your plan about what it covers and what the test costs.

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Sources:

  • CDC
  • Medicare (medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus)

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.

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