Halloween isn't really supposed to be scary, but COVID-19 has made trick-or-treating frightening for many parents.
There are safe ways to celebrate, but health experts say people need to accept that some traditions need to be adapted to the world today.
Bettendorf will hold Trick-or-Treat 5-7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a complete list of recommendations for the Halloween season, ranking activities as low, moderate or high risk.
For example, modifying trick-or-treating to let kids grab individually wrapped goodie bags while they stay at least six feet away from other people, was described as moderate risk. Traditional trick-or-treating was placed in the high-risk category.
Although the face-to-face interaction children have when they knock on doors is brief, the risk of transmitting a virus increases as more houses are visited, experts say. And if you're trick-or-treating with large groups of children, the risk of transmission is even higher.
"If you're doing something that increases your contacts with other people, then you are automatically increasing their risk and your risk," Dr. Chris Smith, a virologist at the University of Cambridge, told the BBC.
The best ways to reduce the risks while trick-or-treating are to keep groups small, practice social distancing and frequently using hand sanitizer, health experts say.
People who want to lower their risk with people outside their families should pick groups that also have been observing safe social-distancing, Dr. Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease specialist and the deputy medical director at New York's Westmed Medical Group, told Good Housekeeping.
It's important to wear masks, but the CDC cautions that costume masks aren't substitutes for those that are designed to limit the spread of disease.
"A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn't leave gaps around the face," the CDC's guidelines read. "Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe."
Although the virus isn't thought to be commonly spread by touching infected surfaces, Halloween does present some risk if children are knocking on doors, touching door handles or rummaging around in the same candy bowl as other children.
It's unlikely that a child will become sick after eating a piece of candy that was passed out to them, but health experts recommend parents plan for hand-sanitizer breaks and encourage kids to wash their hands before they eat candy.
Health experts say parents who are worried about virus exposure from candy wrappers can put the candy away for a few days before children eat it.
But the real risk is face-to-face contact.
Experts urge visiting only homes that participate in one-way trick-or-treating -- the moderate-risk method described by the CDC. Kids should grab their own individually wrapped goodie bags without risking exposure to homeowners or other children.
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