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Those planning to host a celebration should assess current COVID-19 levels in the community, Public Health, says.

COURTESY IMAGE: OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY - Oregon Health Authority tips for a safe Halloween.The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping how Oregonians celebrate holidays, and that includes Halloween. But it doesn't mean Halloween this year can't still be spooky and fun!

Since the Oregon Health Authority is recommending that Oregonians avoid traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating and "Trunk or Treat" events because these are high-risk activities for crowding among people outside your household, you may be looking for safe, but still spooky, ways to create a fun and memorable holiday.

Children may be disappointed, but there are lots of fun possibilities. Consider involving your children in the planning to add to their enthusiasm for the holiday.

Here are some ideas of ways to celebrate safely:

Host an online costume contest with friends and family both near and far away.

Watch a scary Halloween movie online.

Carve pumpkins with members of your household.

Have a neighborhood jack-o'-lantern contest.

Tour a neighborhood yard and home displays with household members.

Decorate your house, apartment or living space.

Make your own Halloween candy or caramel apples.

Have a Halloween scavenger hunt in or around your home.

Another joy of living in Oregon is getting to visit local farms and pumpkin patches for Halloween activities. You may be wondering if these activities are safe this year. Here are some tips for staying safe at the pumpkin patch this autumn.

Stay home if you're sick or come into contact with someone who's sick.

Wear a mask if you can't stay physically distant.

Avoid crowded activities.

Look for activities that you can do without being too close to others. Some farms may offer hayrides for one household at a time or a corn maze with large aisles that has clearly marked one-way traffic.

"If you dress up in a costume, be careful to plan a costume that allows you to wear a face covering," said State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger. "Halloween masks will not protect you or others from coronavirus. Wearing a cloth or disposable face mask that fits snugly and covers your mouth and nose is still required while wearing a costume, no matter how scary or silly your costume is."

If you plan to host a holiday celebration, you should assess current COVID-19 levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel or limit the number of attendees.

The risk of COVID-19 spreading at events and gatherings increases as follows:

Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events and gatherings.

More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear masks, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city or county).

Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.

Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.

Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household pose low risk for spread. In-person gatherings pose varying levels of risk. Event organizers and attendees should consider the risk of virus spread based on event size and use of mitigation strategies, as outlined in the CDC Considerations for Events and Gatherings guidelines at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/considerations-for-events-gatherings.html.

There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with the virus that causes COVID-19 at a holiday celebration. In combination, these factors will create various amounts of risk, so it is important to consider them individually and together:

Community levels of COVID-19 – Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, as well as where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Family and friends should consider the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when considering whether to host or attend a holiday celebration. Information on the number of cases in an area can be found on the area's  health department website.

The location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings generally pose more risk than outdoor gatherings. Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation, such as those with open windows or doors.

The duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.

The number of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between attendees, and state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.

The locations attendees are traveling from – Gatherings with attendees who are traveling from different places pose a higher risk than gatherings with attendees who live in the same area. Higher levels of COVID-19 cases and community spread in the gathering location, or where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees.

The behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering – Gatherings with attendees who are not adhering to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearing, hand washing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than gatherings with attendees who are engaging in these preventative behaviors.

The behaviors of attendees during the gathering – Gatherings with more preventive measures, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing, in place pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented.

People who should not attend in-person holiday celebrations:

People with or exposed to COVID-19 Do not host or participate in any in-person festivities, if you or anyone in your household

Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others

Has symptoms of COVID-19

Is waiting for COVID-19 viral test results

May have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days

Is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19

People at increased risk for severe illness If you are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or live or work with someone at increased risk of severe illness, you should:

Avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household.

Avoid larger gatherings and consider attending activities that pose lower risk (as described throughout this page) if you decide to attend an in-person gathering with people who do not live in your household.

Remember that the safest activities are celebrating with members of your own household. If you gather with people outside your own household, you can decrease the risk by being outside, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance, and wearing a mask.

You may have to get a little bit more creative this year. It is more important than ever to put safety first because COVID-19 cases have risen recently and holiday gatherings on Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day led to increased case counts.

So, this Halloween, be extra mindful of your choices. Choosing low-risk Halloween plans can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 illness, decrease the impact on Oregon's health care system and save lives.

Be safe and continue to be kind to one another.


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