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To Treat or not to Treat? – Staying in safest, but steps can be taken to reduce risk

PARKERSBURG — Like most every other activity in 2020, questions abound about trick or treating in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief among them: Should it be done and can it be done safely?

“The way to look at it is in levels of risk,” said Anne Goon, Marietta-Belpre Health Department health commissioner. “So what’s the least risky? The least risky is just to do something in your own house.”

The highest risk comes from going to a party, especially an indoor gathering, with lots of people, she said.

But for those who want to give traditional trick or treating a try, there are ways to make it safer, according to health officials.

“The recommendation is that you do it in such a way that you’re not coming into close contact” with other people, Goon said.

That includes maintaining social distancing between households, even while moving around outside. Kids should not be sent into a crowd of people gathering treats. And the number of stops should be reduced from previous years.

“Only going to nine or 10 houses helps you keep that number lower,” Goon said.

Those giving out candy are advised to place the items in individual baggies and let trick or treaters pick them up. They can still sit a safe distance away if they want to observe the costumes and greet visitors, Goon said.

Such steps are necessary because of the fact that the virus can be spread by people without any symptoms.

“There’s no way of knowing for sure who’s infectious,” Goon said.

Many Mid-Ohio Valley municipalities are moving forward with trick or treat, most of them on Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31. Officials are advising residents to be careful and follow health guidelines.

“We’re just encouraging folks to have individual responsibility and wear their masks,” Ravenswood Mayor Josh Miller said. “I just find it difficult to say we can’t have trick or treat but we can have football games” and other activities.

Ravenswood’s trick or treat is slated for 6-8 p.m. Oct. 31, but “if we have a major spike, that could change,” he said.

Miller added that people should not feel pressured to participate or put out candy.

Glenville Mayor Dennis Fitzpatrick said the city’s planned 6 to 7:30 p.m. trick-or-treat period on the holiday is contingent upon Gilmer County Schools remaining in session for in-person learning.

“If they happen to get out of synch, then we will cancel trick or treat,” he said.

Some towns have called off traditional trick or treating in light of the pandemic. Pennsboro has planned a trunk or treat instead from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Pennsboro Race Track.

New Martinsville Mayor Sandy Hunt said the city has transformed its traditional “Boo at Bruce” event that draws 500 to 700 youngsters to Bruce Park as businesses and organizations hand out candy. Instead, Hydro Drive will be closed down as parents drive their trick or treaters to different stations where they can collect candy from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25.

“So we eliminate the mass gatherings, and we still wear our masks and practice social distancing,” Hunt said.

The city will not sponsor traditional trick or treating this year, but Hunt said some neighborhoods have organized their own events.

Harrisville announced on its Facebook page that the designated trick-or-treat time is 5:30 to 7 p.m. for those who choose to participate.

“There has been a surge in virus cases, and the schools have enough to worry about without this added worry,” the post says. “Therefore, the town does not encourage trick or treating for 2020.”

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Trick or Treat times (Saturday, Oct. 31, unless otherwise noted)

West Virginia

∫ Elizabeth: 5:30 to 7 p.m.

∫ Ellenboro: 5:30 to 7 p.m.

∫ Glenville: 6-7:30 p.m.

∫ Grantsville: 4-6 p.m. drive-through, in front of the courthouse; 6-7:30 p.m. regular trick or treat, both Oct. 30

∫ Harrisville: 5:30 to 7 p.m. (for those who want to participate, the town does not encourage it)

∫ Middlebourne: 6-7 p.m.

∫ New Martinsville: 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, Cruising for Treats on Hydro Drive

∫ Paden City: 6-7 p.m.

∫ Parkersburg: 6-7:30 p.m.

∫ Pennsboro: 5:30 to 7 p.m., trunk or treat event only at Pennsboro Race Track

∫ Ravenswood: 6-8 p.m.

∫ Ripley: 6-7:30 p.m.

∫ Sistersville: 6-7 p.m.

∫ Spencer: 5:30 to 7 p.m.

∫ St. Marys: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

∫ Vienna: 6-7:30 p.m.

∫ Williamstown: 6-7:30 p.m.

Ohio

∫ Barlow and Vincent: 6-7:30 p.m.

∫ Belpre: 6-7:30 p.m.

∫ Beverly: 6:30 to 8 p.m.

∫ Lowell: 6-7:30 p.m.

∫ Ludlow Township: 5:30-8 p.m.

∫ Marietta: 6:30 to 8 p.m.

∫ McConnelsville: 5:30 to 7 p.m.

∫ New Matamoras: 5:30 to 7 p.m.

∫ Newport: 6-7:30 p.m.

∫ Palmer Township: 6-8 p.m. Oct. 30

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CDC trick-or-treat recommendations

Traditional Halloween activities are fun, but some can increase the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 or influenza. Plan alternate ways to participate in Halloween.

If giving out candy:

∫ Avoid direct contact with trick or treaters.

∫ Give out treats outdoors, if possible.

∫ Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take.

∫ Wash hands before handling treats.

∫ Wear a mask.

For trick or treaters:

∫ A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask, nor should a costume mask be worn over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult.

∫ Masks should not be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing.

∫ Bring hand sanitizer (with at least 60 percent alcohol) with you and use it after touching objects or other people.

∫ Parents, supervise young children using hand sanitizer.

∫ Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.

∫ Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you .

∫ Indoors and outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others for a long time.

Source: cdc.gov/coronavirus

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