Summit County officials promote safe Halloween activities amid rising COVID-19 case numbers
KEYSTONE — Summit County’s case numbers continue to toe a risky line.
At a Board of Health meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13, officials discussed Summit County’s rising case numbers and their concern about how the upcoming Halloween holiday might impact those numbers.
Summit County’s case numbers have been weaving over and under the 175 positive cases per 100,000 people threshold that the state uses to determine the level of restrictions applied to the county.
As of Oct. 12, the county’s case numbers were at 187.3 cases per 100,000 people, according to the county’s coronavirus web page. If that trend continues for 14 consecutive days, the county will be in safer-at-home level 3, which is labeled as “high risk.”
If the county moves into that phase, stricter capacity limits will be placed on churches, restaurants, offices, retail stores and more.
Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland urged people to get tested if they are experiencing symptoms of the virus — fever, chills, headache, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, fatigue, muscle or body aches, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
“If you do get tested that means that you’re ill enough to be tested and you should be staying home and quarantining until you get that test result,” Wineland said. “Please do not engage in any other activity, including, of course, going to work, attending parties or hosting parties.”
How to celebrate a safe Halloween
The biggest fear for county officials is a spike in cases as a result of Halloween activities. All organized trick-or-treating has been canceled by town governments. However, the county is still urging people to avoid the tradition this year.
“We’re really discouraging typical trick-or-treating given our high number of cases right now,” Wineland said. “Over the past couple holidays, such as Memorial Day and Fourth of July, we were able to really suppress the virus afterwards. That (was) not the case after Labor Day. If we want to continue to move forward to have our ski resorts open and have a safe and successful season, we really need to think of these holidays more seriously.”
At the meeting, public health spokesperson Nicole Valentine provided a list of activities and tips that would make for good alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating.
Some of the suggested activities include:
- Lining up candy at the edge of a driveway
- Using a tube or slide to slide candy to children
- Hosting a trunk or treat event in an empty parking lot or open space
- Setting up an Easter egg or treasure hunt style event
- Driving around to see spooky house decorations
- Hosting a movie night at home
- Hosting a pumpkin-carving contest at home
- Virtual costume contests
- Virtual haunted houses
“We encourage people to stay in their own family or household or with children that their children are already playing with,” Valentine said. “So it may be a couple of children in the neighborhood or children in the school’s cohort.”
Valentine said it’s important for people to accept that this year’s Halloween is going to be different.
“There’s lots of ideas and we certainly think we can make it a great Halloween and a very special Halloween for children, but it is going to be different this year,” she said.
Valentine also said people should stick to candy that is pre-wrapped as it is safer than actual food.
“We do suggest that children are not eating the candy right away as they are going around trick-or-treating because that does involve taking your mask off,” she said.
As with any activity, public health officials are urging anyone who is experiencing symptoms of the virus to stay home during the holiday.
At the meeting, Wineland also discussed the state’s draft plan for vaccine distribution once one is available. According to the draft plan, the vaccine would be distributed in phases.
The first phase are the state’s critical workforce, which includes health care workers, firefighters, police officers, public health personnel and Emergency Medical Services workers, as well as residents of assisted living, long-term care and nursing facilities.
The vaccine would then be administered to essential workers — people who have direct interaction with the public or are in high-density workplaces — and higher-risk individuals as part of Phase 2.
Everyone else would be able to get the vaccine in Phase 3.
“They’re not going to release the vaccine until they’re absolutely sure that it is safe to distribute,” Wineland said. “We won’t probably see it until the end of this year or the beginning of next year.”
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