New coronavirus map helps parents determine risk level of Halloween activities in their area

As parents across the country start gearing up for Halloween, they’ll have to decide how to maximize fun for their kids while minimizing the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19. 

Can families go trick-or-treating? Is a Zoom costume party a better idea? 

Today, The Halloween & Costume Association and Harvard Global Health Institute released a color-coded map that shows coronavirus risk levels by county to help give families guidance on how to safely celebrate Halloween. Counties fall into one of four risk levels, calculated on a seven-day rolling average of daily cases per 100,000 population. The risk levels correlate with colors: 

  • Green: Less than 1
  • Yellow: Less than 10 but greater than 1
  • Orange: Less than 25 but greater than 10
  • Red: Greater than 25

Initial high-risk “red zone” areas include parts of North Dakota and South Dakota as well as a number of southwestern states. Parts of Maine, Colorado and Oregon have low risks and fall into the “green zone”.

Once parents find the color connected to their county, they can scroll down from the map to find suggestions for activities based on risk level. Green zone activities include trick-or-treating and small neighborhood costume parties. In the red zone, Zoom parties and at-home scavenger hunts are suggested. 

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“We’re not making decisions for people,” Dr. Ingrid Katz, a Harvard infectious disease expert who helped developed the map told USA TODAY. “People can make informed decisions themselves.”

A mom, she currently plans to allow her son to trick-or-treat this year. The risk of spread, she says, is less outdoors than it is indoors. With most trick-or-treaters wearing masks and keeping their distance, Katz says many should be OK to celebrate Halloween.

Follow Gary Dinges on Twitter @gdinges

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