COVID-19 Update Oct. 9–Wilton Now at 268 Cases, State DPH Gives Guidance for Halloween

The State Department of Public Health reported on Thursday, Oct. 8 that Wilton has had a total of 268 COVID-19-positive cases (as of Oct. 7) since the start of the pandemic, an overall increase of four cases in the past week.

According to COVID Act Now, Fairfield County is faring better than the eastern part of the state; in New London County the infection rate is 1.42, putting it in the ‘critical’ category, compared to Fairfield County’s rate of 1.05, categorized as ‘medium’. The infection rate measures how many people each person in Connecticut with COVID is infecting.

The COVID Act Now website says that overall, not only is the total number of active cases in Connecticut rising, but that “it is growing at an unsustainable rate,” and the state is at risk for an outbreak.

Statewide data for Oct. 8 (as of Oct. 7):

Total COVID-19 Cases:  59,748 (one day increase of +384)
Total COVID-19 Deaths:  4,527 (+5)
Patients Currently Hospitalized with COVID-19:  128 (-10)
Total COVID-19 PCR Tests Reported:  1,776,842 (+27,203)

Halloween Guidance

The State Department of Public Health is encouraging residents to celebrate Halloween differently this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, calling traditional Halloween activities “high risk for spreading COVID-19.”

The department issued suggestions for alternative activities they say will reduce that risk significantly. “The holiday may look different this year, but the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) believes we can still enjoy a happy (and healthy) Halloween.”

In addition, the CT DPH recommended following guidance recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rating “lower,” “moderate,” and “higher” risk activities, and reiterated, “The ability to maintain social distancing and follow face-covering rules is especially important when participating in Halloween activities.”

The guidance specifically stated that anyone who is ill are ill or has traveled to one of the states on the CT travel advisory list between Oct. 16-30 (i.e. 14 days before Halloween) should refrain from leaving their home for any Halloween activity and passing out Halloween candy.

CDC guidance and safety tips are summarized below:

Trick-or-Treating

For Trick-or-Treaters

  • Traditional trick-or-treating is a high-risk activity. Instead, the CDC and CT DPH recommends participating in one-way trick-or-treating where goodie bags or a large bowl of candy are placed outside of homes for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance.
  • Parents/guardians should limit the number of homes their children visit.
  • It is not recommended to trick-or-treat with people outside of your household.
  • Remain six feet away from people outside your household at all times.
  • All trick-or-treating participants should wear a mask or face covering while outside at all times.
    • A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth or surgical mask.
    • A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and does not leave gaps around the face.
    • Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth or surgical mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
    • Do not wear a costume rubber mask over another face covering of any kind.

For Handing Out Candy

  • If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
  • Before you answer the door, make sure your face covering is in place over your nose and mouth, wash or sanitize your hands before answering door.
  • Remain six feet from the Trick-or-Treater.
  • Place the candy inside the child’s bag for them instead of having them take it from the bowl themselves.
  • Homes providing candy may set up hand sanitizer stations outside or parents/guardians can pack a travel bottle of their own.
Parties and Events

Events to consider:

  • In lieu of in-person house parties, host virtual Halloween events, e.g. virtual costume contests.
  • Host drive-by Halloween events, e.g. neighborhood or town-based house decorating.
  • Prepare candy scavenger hunts at homes with your household members.
  • Have a Halloween movie night with the people in your household.

Events to avoid:

  • Large parties that exceed 25 people indoors or 150 people outdoors
  • Hosting an indoor party that exceeds 25 people indoors or 150 people outdoors can result in a fine of $500
  • Attending a party that exceed attendance rules can result in a fine of $250
  • Large Halloween-themed parades where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming
  • Hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door (See Trick or Treating tips below)
  • Trunk-or-treat events where cars gather in a large parking lot and allow children to move from car to car to collect candy.

Other guidance

  • Restaurants that choose to host Halloween-themed events should strictly adhere to capacity and physical distancing guidance as outlined in Sector Rules.
  • Colleges and universities should consider alternatives to on-campus costume parties or trick-or-treating between dorms, as these activities will be challenging to maintain physical distancing. Guidance for safe Halloween activities should be shared widely with on- and off-campus students.

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