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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to help us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

Halloween & COVID-19: It’s Possible to Have Fun and Stay Safe!

Published in Pediatrics, Infectious Diseases, For the Health of It Author: Jill Amsberry,DO

The traditions of Halloween will look different this year as we aim to protect our community and help to stop the spread of COVID-19. This doesn't mean “canceling” Halloween – it means thinking about it differently and finding ways kids can still have fun while lowering the risk of transmission.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlined lower-, medium- and higher-risk activities. And they offer safety tips when participating in any risk activity.

Higher-risk activities

  • Trunk-or-treat (social distancing is difficult to maintain)
  • Indoor Halloween parties
  • Haunted houses
  • Door-to-door trick-or-treating

Medium-risk activities

No-contact neighborhood trick-or-treating is considered a medium-risk activity for Halloween night, according to MDH. This could include putting individual goodie bags at the end of your driveway or at the edge of your yard for families to grab and go, so that hand-to-hand contact is limited.

Some neighborhoods are planning to distribute treats through PVC tubing, to eliminate kids grabbing treats from a bowl. If you do plan to do no-contact trick-or-treating, wait at a distance for other groups to leave the home before approaching.

Before celebrating, consider the following precautions

  • If you may have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to the virus, the CDC advises not participating in giving out candy to trick-or-treaters, even if no contact is involved.
  • Don’t rely on a costume mask to limit the spread of COVID-19. Many costume masks are either one layer of thin fabric or plastic with holes, and neither is adequate for spread prevention.
  • Avoid costume masks altogether in favor of cloth masks.
  • Don’t try to double up with a costume mask and a cloth mask, which could be dangerous.

The only way an activity is considered low-risk is to exclude unnecessary contact with others in hopes to limit the potential for cross-exposure — particularly as Minnesotans see COVID-19 cases rising.

Lower-risk activities

  • Pumpkin carving and a family movie night with treats
  • Neighborhood outside get-together to carve pumpkins
  • Halloween-themed scavenger hunt
  • Virtual Halloween costume contest

If you participate in any activities with friends or family outside of your home, wear face coverings — whether it is indoor or outdoor gatherings. Also, do your best to keep a distance of six feet away from others whenever possible.

And when the festivities are over, and before you eat any candy or treats, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.