NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -  For Halloween, Metro Public Health officials are asking people to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance and stressed the importance of following proven protocols. 

"That means keep your mask on, stay socially distant, stay outdoors, and avoid large crowds. Only attend a haunted house or hayride if it is following strict health protocols," Metro Public Health said in a statement on Tuesday.

The following are lower risk activities for Halloween:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
  • 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 virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

The CDC said the following items are moderate risk:

  • 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)
  • If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 second before and after preparing the bags.
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
  • A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not 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.
  • Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
  • Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
  • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart
  • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs.

The CDC said the following items are high risk and should be avoid to prevent the spread of the virus: 

  • 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
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

Officials are especially worried about Thanksgiving gatherings. Health leaders are urging people to consider having an outdoor thanksgiving lunch or dinner.

If that's not possible, you may want to avoid Thanksgiving with people not in your immediate household.

Small gatherings across the country including in Nashville could be what's driving up more infections, according to the CDC. 

The Metro Health Department also said they're seeing cases in school-aged kids and their families. However, they said it’s not from being back in the classroom, but extracurricular activities.

So right now, they're seeing a continued increase in 0-17-year-olds and in 35 to 54-year-olds.

They said new clusters involving schools and universities mainly came from sports teams and weekend activities with friends such as parties, bonfires and sleepovers.

According to Nashville health officials, starting on week 36, they had identified 36 clusters. Of those clusters, 17 were a school/university setting, social gathering, religious setting or bar/restaurant. 

  • At least 12 cases came from at a local karaoke bar
  • 10 from a church service
  • 8 from two separate weddings
  • at least 13 from a 7th grade party with students
  • large volleyball tournament that resulted in 32 cases among student athletes and staff 

There were new clusters identifying four clusters with a wedding on Sept. 26, four cases on Oct. 3 and five cases associated with church-related social events. 

Three schools are closed due to high numbers including St. Bernard’s, St. Cecilia and Cora Howe.

Health officials said the spike in cases will get worse as cold weather causes more people to stay indoors.

 

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