Why doctors say trick-or-treating is a go this year


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report shows that one in eight parents say their kids won’t go trick-or-treating because of COVID-19.

After more than 18 months under the spooky, dark COVID-19 cloud, doctors are saying Halloween celebrations should be able to go ahead safely this year.

Trick-or-treaters at the Goddard School in Steiner Ranch are thankful for that clearance.

Saturday the school launched its first Trunk-or-Treat with 22 cars in attendance and nearly 200 trick-or-treaters.

“They are excited to have an event to come back to with their families, friends and to get to see their teachers and have fun,” said Emiley Odom, Director at the Goddard School.

The Trunk-Or-Treat or trick-or-treating in general is a move doctor’s are on board with.

“This year’s a lot different. As parents, it may seem no different because kids don’t have vaccines and 2,953 counties (out of 3,216) are still in high transmission. But our understanding of the virus has evolved. We’re learning more and more every day. And this evolving science can inform us how to lead a more strategic life, like celebrating Halloween. This year I would place trick-or-treating far less risky than last year,” said Katelyn Jetelina.

Jetelina is an epidemiologist and runs a popular blog called ‘Your Local Epidemiologist.’ She recently wrote a blog about why trick-or-treating is okay this year.

“Last Halloween we were scrambling to still understand the virus. We didn’t have a centralized, coordinated, well-funded public health response, so we couldn’t quickly learn, for example, common transmission routes,” said Jetelina.

Since the science has come out, Jetelina says we now have a better grip on things. Outdoor transmission, for instance, is very rare.

For example, a much more recent study found construction workers transmitted the virus to 26% of their indoor coworkers while infecting only 1.4% of their outdoor coworkers despite shouting and eating together outside. Airflow is key.

Quick transitions are also key, which generally is the case while trick-or-treating. If your child were to put their hands in the candy bowl, surface transmission is extremely rare.

“Last year, we knew the virus stayed on surfaces a long time in tightly controlled lab settings, but the real world isn’t a lab. Temperature fluctuations and evaporation, for example, can easily damage virus particles. There’s no need to wipe down candy or put in the cupboard for a few days before digging in,” said Jetelina.

Jetelina also recommends checking to see what your area vaccine rate is.

“See what that rate is. You can kind of guess. If it’s 70%, then 7 out of 10 of the houses you go to will probably be vaccinated,” said Jetelina.

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