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County encourages residents to avoid large gatherings; cautions about the timing of resorts opening and post-holiday spikes in case numbers
Contact: Nicole Valentine, Public Affairs Coordinator, Summit County Public Health
SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit County Public Health Department is urging residents to celebrate Halloween a bit differently this year, emphasizing that during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are ways to minimize the risk of catching or spreading the virus while still having fun, and not posing a risk to the timing of ski resorts opening for the winter season.
“Celebrating Halloween is a special tradition in Summit County, however this year we encourage individuals to think carefully about how they can lower the risk, not only for themselves and their families, but for our community,” Amy Wineland, Director of Public Health said. “We believe that we can celebrate Halloween differently this year, and still make it a holiday to remember for our children.”
Local public health officials and the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) are offering tips and tricks to help parents plan for Halloween, while following the recommendations for communities in the Safer at Home Level 2 phase of reopening.
“It is still very important to follow best practices to help prevent the virus from spreading, which includes wearing masks that fully cover their nose and mouth, washing hands frequently, and maintaining 6 feet of distance from people outside of your household,” said Dan Hendershott, Environmental Health Manager. “As we have seen a rise in case numbers in Summit County and numerous outbreaks in the last couple of weeks, it’s particularly important to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and to keep in mind that parties with alcohol and drugs can cloud judgement and increase riskier behaviors.”
Community members should follow the local Public Health Order and Six Commitments to Containment to help protect themselves and others. Residents are encouraged to choose the safest options for celebrating, keeping in mind that outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings, and smaller groups, kept within the household or family are safer than larger groups. The potential for disease spread increases drastically when households mix. Parents are encouraged to consider small celebrations with children that their kids have already been spending time with, or kids in their school cohort for example. In addition, it is safer to gather with people who consistently wear masks, keep physical distance, and follow other prevention recommendations.
While the county is discouraging traditional forms of trick-or-treating which includes mixing many households and promotes close contact amongst individuals, there are plenty of safer alternatives that limit the potential for spreading COVID-19. Residents are encouraged to communicate with neighbors to plan alternatives for trick-or-treating this year. Creativity is encouraged. There are plenty of ways to hand out candy while keeping appropriate distance. For example:
These safety measures should be kept in mind:
There are plenty of other ways to celebrate Halloween that are safer than trick-or-treating, including having a Halloween movie night at home with the family, hosting a virtual haunted house or costume contest, pumpkin carving, or organizing a drive-by yard decorating contest where neighbors pick their favorite yards. Community members can consult the CDPHE website for more Halloween tips, tricks, ideas and recommendations.
Individuals should not participate in any in-person activities, including handing out candy, if they are sick, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are currently in the quarantine period, or have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently in the isolation period. Individuals with an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should think about the risks and benefits of activities they are considering. Participating in virtual activities is the safest option.
Community members are encouraged to wear a mask that fully covers the nose and mouth, wash hands frequently, and keep 6 feet of distance from others when out in public or around people who are not a part of your household. It is important to note that costume masks are not a substitute for masks that protect against COVID-19 spread. Masks that protect against COVID-19 should be made from two or more breathable fabric layers that cover the nose and mouth, with no gaps around the face. Wear non-costume masks when indoors with non-household contacts and outdoors whenever 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained.
County officials urge residents to be especially cautious this year in lieu of the spike in COVID-19 cases that followed Labor Day weekend. The county stands in danger of sliding backwards into Safer at Home Level 3 on CDPHE’s new Dial Dashboard and facing more restrictive measures if outbreaks continue to happen.
“The timing of a post Halloween spike in our case numbers would be disastrous for the opening of our resorts,” said County Manager Scott Vargo. “Individuals need to keep that in mind, avoid gatherings, and choose safe alternatives if we want to ensure a successful winter season, keep our businesses open, and protect our families and friends.”
More Halloween tips, tricks, and recommendations can be found on the CDPHE website.
Information on Summit County positive cases can be found on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard.