Oct 6, 2020


Interviewer: To trick or treat or not to trick or treat? Now, making that decision depends on your specific situation and how risk tolerant you are. But if you do choose to trick or treat this Halloween, infectious disease physician Dr. Hannah Imlay has some things to consider when making that decision.

Dr. Imlay: So the three things that are forefront in my mind, when I am thinking about is this activity safe in the time of COVID or not are: Are there many people that are involved? Am I close to them at a close distance and for a long period of time? And what's the environment around me like? Is this a closed, small area with poor ventilation, or is this a wide, open area?

It's very clear that the safest scenario is you are with your nuclear family that you live with and have routine contact with, nobody else comes over. That is safe 100%. However, that's difficult for a lot of people. So, again, coming back to those three things, what can I do to mitigate my risk? There is one spectrum of risk which is indoor Halloween parties with people laughing and yelling and eating and things like that.

But when you consider trick or treating, it does eliminate some of those things. It's typically done outside. Now, that's not true for any listeners that may live in apartment buildings or cities where that is much more common. But trick or treating done outside and trick or treating often in masks can eliminate some of those things. So the thing it doesn't eliminate is the number of people you're actually seeing. So can you take that extra step to sort of eliminate the person-to-person factor potentially and still try and come up with a scenario that's fun for everyone?

Interviewer: You mentioned trick or treating is usually done in masks. Are Halloween masks alone enough to prevent somebody from COVID?

Dr. Imlay: Halloween masks don't constitute virus-safe masks. So I would say continuing to use your COVID-19-specific mask, plus or minus Halloween masks if that's part of your costume, I think is something I would say that that's definitely needed, if that's going to be part of your Halloween plan.

Interviewer: For more considerations, including a list of low, moderate, and high risk Halloween activities, just search for "CDC Halloween Guidelines."

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