Indiana shares guidance from CDC on Halloween activities; COVID-19 school dashboard set to launch

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS– Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb provided another update Wednesday as the state continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was joined by other state officials, including Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box and Secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) Dr. Jennifer Sullivan.

Dr. Box discussed Halloween guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC says a costume mask should not be a substitute for a cloth 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 doesn’t leave gaps around the face. It may be a good idea to come up with a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

If screaming will occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.

The CDC outlined low, moderate and high-risk Halloween activities:

Lower-risk activities

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household, or outside, at a safe distance with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your home
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

Moderate-risk activities

  • Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced with more than 6 feet apart
  • Attending a costume party outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart

Higher-risk activities

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household

“I’m not trying to be the witch who ruined Halloween, but I don’t want COVID-19 to be that either,” Box said.

She said that Hoosiers should look to their local health officials and elected leaders, who can provide a more localized plan since community spread varies across different areas of the state.

Box urged people to get tested for COVID-19, even if they have the sniffles and think it’s allergies. She said Marion County plans to hire 300 more contact tracers.

The dashboard on school COVID-19 data is expected to launch today, but she said the data will not be complete or comprehensive at launch. They will improve it over the coming weeks as more schools report data. It will be available on the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

With influenza season upon us, Box urged Hoosiers to get their flu shot, so Indiana can have as few flu patients in the hospital as possible. During the briefing, a video of Gov. Holcomb receiving his flu shot was shown.

Holcomb stated the weekly updates from him will change in format a bit soon. The weekly updates will continue, but they’ll be in a different venue. Dr. Box will continue to provide updates but additional guests may not appear as they have been.

Last week, Holcomb announced the state was moving to Stage 5 of his reopening plan. Marion County moved to stage 5 on Monday.

While in Stage 5, the state’s mask mandate will stay in place.

On Wednesday, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) announced 965 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 additional deaths. More than 3,400 Hoosiers have died in connection with the virus.

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