How to stay COVID safe on Halloween

How to stay safe on Halloween

While it is possible to celebrate Halloween safely, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital officials are reminding residents of the ongoing risk of COVID infection and the best ways to prevent transmission.

“We do need to get back to some sort of normality on the holidays, but we still have to look at how to protect ourselves and others during our celebrations,” said Celia Mills, Administrator of Care Coordination and Community Health at RRH.

At this time last year, the summer surge was waning. Many residents who had remained isolated from the rest of their community for the first few months of lockdown took that as a sign that it was safe to return to typical habits. What resulted was the highest surge of the pandemic, which began in October and didn’t spike until after the New Year.

Ridgecrest has the added complication this year of seeing a continued increase in cases and positivity rates — in contrast to declining trends in the county and state. Some health professionals have speculated that this anomaly is linked to our low vaccination rates — just more than 40 percent, compared to more than 60 percent in California.

“The CDC still says that the best protection is to get vaccinated,” said Mills. “But after that, it’s all about social distancing.”

Mills said that trick-or-treating door-to-door is still relatively safe. “Most people go in smaller groups, most likely their own families, and this gives you limited contact with other individuals.”

Those passing out candy can protect themselves, as well.

“Last year our family set up a little table in our entry way and sat inside so that we could say hi to everyone without getting too close. This year we will probably leave our candy on the porch to help themselves.”

Less safe are the crowded gatherings — even those that will be held outdoors.

“Our guidance says that we generally don’t need to mask outdoors. However, if you’re in an area of high transmission — which we are, here in Ridgecrest — and a low vaccination rate, you have more than a 50-percent chance of being in close proximity to one or more people who are not fully vaccinated. The best way to stay safe in this circumstance is to wear a mask and do your best to maintain social distance.”

Mills acknowledged that a community failure to adhere to safety protocol could trigger another spike.

“We always have the potential for that. And as it gets colder, and more activities move indoors, that risk increases.”

Mills also reminded residents that masks should be worn indoors in public spaces, regardless of vaccination status, as long as the high transmission rate continues in our community. Anyone who is ill or who has COVID-like symptoms is encouraged to stay home.

Story First Published: 2021-10-22