Earlier this month the CDC released guidelines for how to have a safe Halloween. Most notably the nation's top infectious disease experts recommend against going door-to-door during this holiday season.
Jackson County recently surpassed 2,000 cases and is now at over 2,175 Coronavirus cases in the County alone. Alabama has added 19,768 COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days, more than a 1,000 cases per day.
The county is considered a high-risk county by the Alabama Department of Public Health. According to ADPH this means that there is unmitigated community spread within the County and ADPH recommends that residents take all possible precautions.
The guidelines available on the CDC's website stated that, due to continued coronavirus surges in many states, traditional trick-or-treating presents a high risk of infection to children and adults alike.
The agency suggests that there are alternatives that can keep families safe but need some amount of pre-planning to accomplish.
The problem that the CDC and others have identified with traditional trick-or-treating is that when going from house to house both children and adults increase the amount of people that they interact with as the travel between houses and social distancing is often difficult in this situation.
As an alternative the department suggests that parents look for ways to provide a similar experience that are safer.
One-way trick-or-treating — a form of trick-or-treating that has houses set out individually wrapped gift bags of candy and children can pick them up without interacting with anyone in the house — is the most ideal; however, this can be difficult to achieve.
It allows for parents to focus on small groups and social distancing, while avoiding buildups of different groups at high traffic are on Halloween such as doorways and walkways.
The CDC also suggests that having a scavenger hunt with family members is a low risk alternative. They also suggest virtual or socially distant activities such as a virtual costume contest, a Halloween themed movie night, touring your neighborhood and looking at other’s decorations — while this option eliminates interaction it retains a portion of the feel of Halloween for children.
The environment that children are trick-or-treating is not the only factor that could play into the risk of infection.
While many may think that Halloween masks provide adequate protection from the virus, the CDC suggests that this is not the case.
"A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask," said the CDC in a post on the Centers' website. Halloween masks don't provide a thick enough layer of fabric to prevent COVID-19 particles from entering the air. If worn over top of a traditional cloth or medical face mask, they also have the potential to interfere with the mask and prevent a parent from easily identifying if their child is properly wearing their mask.
Because of this, the CDC has recommended avoiding traditional Halloween masks and instead suggests that parents decorate cloth masks for children as an alternative.
It is also not recommended to travel for the Halloween weekend as this could spread the virus even further. Madison and Dekalb Counties are listed as High Risk for infection and Marshall County is listed as Moderate risk by ADPH.
The rates of new cases and hospitalizations have drastically increased in Alabama during October.