With Wayne County’s COVID-19 numbers still rising, area residents are encouraged to handle Halloween with a great deal of care and a lot of handwashing or sanitizing.
The Wayne County Commissioners on Wednesday announced that those involved in the county’s COVID-19 task force had discussed cancelling trick or treat throughout the county as a measure to slow the spread of the virus.
However, those involved agreed to allow trick or treat to go on as planned.
Commissioners President Ken Paust offered suggestions for how area residents can treat children to Halloween fun will social distancing.
Residents are encouraged to set up a table with treats at the end of their driveway or at least six feet from their door and replenish it when youngsters have moved on.
County officials are discouraging handing candy directly to trick or treaters or having them dig in a community bowl where they might transfer germs to others.
Trick or treaters and their families are requested to wear a protective mask as well as their Halloween mask.
Paust repeated the COVID-19 fight song: wash or sanitize hands often; wear a mask; and social distance.
“We can’t emphasize it enough,” Paust said. “We’re in a situation right now where the virus is kind of coming back.”
COVID-19 is impacting the young as well as the old. Nettle Creek and Northeastern schools recently announced they would suspend in-person middle school and high school classes and activities for two weeks after multiple people received positive tests for the virus. Community Action of East Central Indiana’s Head Start classrooms in Wayne County announced Thursday they would be closed for two weeks as well.
The commissioners are looking beyond Halloween to Thanksgiving and holiday family gatherings with concern.
Commissioner Mary Anne Butters encouraged relatives planning to come to Wayne County for a “happy, healthy Thanksgiving” holiday to “give Grandma a break” by staying in a local hotel or motel rather than crowding into one relative’s home for overnight stays.
Butters said the Wayne County Convention and Tourism Bureau is working with area hoteliers to have them offer a discount for the holidays to ensure local residents and their visitors remain healthy and safe.
Butters said social distancing at gatherings also will be important, adding that some families are planning to celebrate this year a bit more like the first Thanksgiving by gathering outside around a fire pit or in an outdoor tent.
“There are a lot of creative ways to have a healthy, happy Thanksgiving,” Butters said.
Whether trick or treating or getting together for a meal, Paust reminded residents that those who seem healthy may be asymptomatic and able to pass the COVID-19 virus to those who are more vulnerable to its effects.
“If you have a family gathering, wear a mask,” Paust said.
-By Rachel Sheeley