Health officials recommend precautions when trick-or-treating

Nearly a year after the CDC told parents and kids to skip trick-or-treating for Halloween, the annual tradition is coming back the end of the month. But, health experts say parents and children should still take precautions.

While coronavirus cases are decreasing in the country, the CDC says community transmission remains high, with extra concerns over the delta variant.

Currently, children 12 years and older can be vaccinated against COVID-19. But, considering that most trick-or-treaters are under 12, it's still recommended that precautions be taken, such as wearing a face covering, limiting the size of gatherings and maintaining physical distance, even outdoors.

FOX 9 spoke with Dr. Beth Thielen, assistant professor and pediatric infectious disease expert at M Health Fairview Masonic Children's Hospital. She said even though outdoors activities are generally safer, they have seen more infections with the delta variant occurring outdoors.

"I have less comfort in advising people that if you would just stay outside you'd be safe. We are seeing more and more documented cases of outdoor transmissions, and even people who have had prior COVID or prior vaccinations are potentially getting infected with the delta variant," Dr. Thielen said.

Among several recommendations, Dr. Thielen advises families to focus on activities that can be done with members of their household or outdoors in places where physical distancing can be maintained.  

She also said frequent use of hand sanitizer and hand-washing is a must. And for anyone sharing candy or other treats, consider handing out individually wrapped "grab-and-go" goodie bags, rather than directly handing treats to children.  

"I really encourage people to think of ways to get creative. Think about ways to really focus on those key principals of physical distancing, wearing masks, and limiting the number of people that you're with. Sort of getting back to that approach, I think that those are the fundamental principles that will help carry us through to the end of this next wave," Dr. Thielen said.

Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said families can feel safe trick-or-treating because cases in the country are on the decline. But, he advises that those who have not gotten vaccinated should do so for an extra degree of protection.