Local doctor shares advice on safe trick-or-treating during pandemic

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — To trick-or-treat or not trick-or-treat? That is the question haunting parents the weekend before Halloween. 

COVID-19 numbers are spiking across the Midwest and parents in the metro are struggling to make a safe decision for their families.

For kids, Halloween is one of the best holidays of the year, and when they’ve already given up things like birthday parties, swimming, and field trips, the thought of forfeiting trick-or-treating is tough.

Six-year-old Charli Finson is trying to understand. “Some kids are not gonna go to houses because of the coronavirus, because some of them maybe be sick, but they don’t know,” his mom Bobbi said.

Charli’s mom Bobbi wants to make the right decision for her four young, costume-loving girls.  

“We are feeling sad because you don’t know if we are going or not and it’s a very special holiday for our family and we celebrated big every year,” Finson said.

According to the CDC, depending on where you live, collecting candy door to door for Halloween is considered a medium to high risk activity. 

Since March, nearly 750,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19.

Doctors in the metro tell FOX4 cases here are on the rise. For kids, the symptoms are usually just milder and they typically recover faster.  

“They tend to be the ones who spread it to the adults who are at risk and so the risk is more to who they’re bringing it home to or who is in their bubble that may be at risk for getting complications from COVID,” said Dr. Jennifer McBride, a pediatrician at Truman Medical Center.

If you decide to let your kids trick-or-treat, there are things you can do to make it safer. Have your kids where a face mask, not just a Halloween mask. Avoid congregating at the door to houses. Keep socially distanced from other groups of people. Use hand sanitizer between each exchange. Don’t eat candy while trick-or-treating. Have kids take off their costumes and wash their hands as soon as they come home.

Even with those precautions, some families should avoid the inevitable contact that trick-or-treating brings. 

“If you have anybody in your household who would be considered high risk like diabetes or obesity or respiratory or cardiovascular disorders and that the child is exposed to daily, then that is the child should not go out,”  McBride said.

Many families who have decided not to go out are finding other creative ways to celebrate. 

Jenny Sublette said they will do a scavenger hunt with their own candy and then,  

“We’re going to do one of those candy shoots from the play-set outback the top level down to the fence line where the sidewalk is,” Sublette said.  

One recent study indicates that about 30% of people won’t be handing out candy on Halloween. If you decide to provide treats, experts recommend that you set up outside instead of having kids come all the way up to your door. Wear a mask. Provide individual treats instead of allowing kids to rummage through a candy bowl. And sanitize your hands between each group of kids.

Finally, if your family decides not to trick-or-treat, there are alternatives. Have a Halloween movie night. Carve pumpkins or create a holiday craft. Host a socially distanced Halloween parade. Deliver candy to your friends’ front doors, or get together outside with a small group to play games where you can socially distance.

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