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Public health officer Dr. Sarah Present appears in PSA advising families to consider other options this Halloween

SCREENSHOT - YOUTUBE - Dr. Sarah Present reccomends against trick-or-treating this year, but if you choose to anyway, she has some tips for reducing the spread of COVID-19. Clackamas County's public health officer is urging local families to consider skipping trick-or-treating this Halloween due to COVID-19.

"Unfortunately we're really recommending against it," said Dr. Sarah Present. "I know that it's a fun tradition, however, it is considered a high risk for the spread of COVID-19"

Present's recommendation comes as the number of new COVID-19 cases reached record highs for both the state and Clackamas County in recent weeks, and hospitalizations continue to climb.

According to data from the state's Office of Emergency Management, Clackamas County currently has 2,946 active cases, and a total cumulative case count of 3,206. To date, 671 Oregonians have died from the disease, 66 of whom were Clackamas County residents.

"We are seeing an increase in cases and a slight increase in hospitalizations. Many outbreaks we're seeing are in smaller gatherings of people gathering indoors without masks," Present said. "As the weather gets colder, many people may increase this activity, and we do know we see spread there. "

Present took a moment this week ahead of the Halloween holiday to appear in a county public service update talking about the spread of the virus, encouraging local residents to get their flu shot and ways to safely celebrate this Saturday, Oct. 31.

Those recommendations include watching a movie at home, hosting a virtual costume contest for the kids and setting up a backyard scavenger hunt for candy.

Present said she understands that the draw of the Halloween tradition might be too strong for some to say no, so she also issued some tips for how to improve safety for those who choose to trick-or-treat anyway, as well as those who choose to pass out candy.

"The same precautions we usually follow — 6-foot distance, washing hands often and wearing facial coverings — will help protect you and make sure trick-or-treating is safer if you choose to do it," Present said. "We're asking people not to join groups outside their own home when trick-or-treating."

According to Present, one of the best ways to protect yourself and others is by implementing a face covering into your Halloween costume in some fashion. Carrying hand sanitizer and using it often is also encouraged.

For those passing out candy, it is recommended to place candy on a table to keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and trick-or-treaters and to sanitize the surface often.

More information on safely celebrating the holidays can be found on the county's website.

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