Trick or Treat?

Public Health gives residents new Halloween tool

-Messenger photo illustration by Elijah Decious
This year, Webster County Public Health asks the public to put up printed signs provided in today’s edition of The Messenger for the first COVID-19 pandemic Halloween to tell kids whether they are open for trick-or-treating or not.

This year, trick-or-treaters will have a new tool to find candy.

On the first Halloween during the coronavirus pandemic, Webster County Public Health (WCPH) is asking residents to participate — or not — by using one of the green flyers inserted into today’s edition of The Messenger.

A green flyer posted at the door tells trick-or-treaters with a face covering they are welcome to ring the doorbell and partake in the goodies of the season.

More than just a porch light, WCPH hopes the signs this year printed and distributed in partnership with The Messenger will help prevent some spread of COVID-19.

In Fort Dodge, trick-or-treating is designated for the night of Halloween on Saturday, Oct. 31. The trick-or-treating hours in the city will be 5:30 to 7 p.m.

“We know that residents are wanting a semblance of normalcy,” said Kelli Bloomquist, WCPH public information officer. “However, we are still in the middle of a public health pandemic. The signs will hopefully help trick-or-treaters and their parents know as they approach a home which residents are participating and which ones aren’t comfortable with doing so.”

Placing a sign in your window or front door, in addition to the typical front porch light being on or off, is a simple way to tell them if you aren’t comfortable with others coming to the door.

The gesture may make it easier for those who are at high risk for coronavirus complications or those who are in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure.

In addition to the printed signs inserted in today’s paper, the signs can also be printed from WCPH’s Facebook page, or substituted with red and green paper.

“We are thankful that media organizations in Webster County are willing to help us spread the word and the signage about these additional steps which could help prevent potential COVID exposures,” said Bloomquist.

WCPH also asks homeowners to place candy into each trick-or-treater’s bag, as opposed to having children reach into a communal bowl. Residents who are choosing to open their doors to trick-or-treaters are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask. Additionally, parents should allow the previous group to leave the front door before approaching the home to allow for social distancing.

Masks should be worn both by those handing out candy and the children and parents receiving it door to door, Public Health advises. Once home, children and parents should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water and launder all face masks, costumes or coats that were worn.

“It is important to remember that we are still in a pandemic,” said Kari Prescott, WCPH director. “COVID hasn’t gone away and while we all seek some normalcy, we still need to take precautions to ensure that residents and trick-or-treaters are doing all that they can to keep one another safe.”

It remains imperative that those in quarantine or isolation due to a positive COVID-19 test result or exposure, as well as those who are not feeling well with symptoms they’re unsure of, do not participate in trick-or-treating this year.

“Please do not participate in trick-or-treating so that you potentially don’t expose others to your germs,” Prescott said.

For more information about COVID-19, please call Webster County Health Department’s COVID hotline at 515-227-7153 or email WebCoCOVID@WebsterCountyIA.org.

*A previous version of this story indicated that a red flyer for those not participating in trick-or-treating would be included in today’s edition of The Messenger. Only a green flyer for those wishing to participate has been included with today’s printed edition. Those wishing to put up a red flyer indicating they are not open for trick-or-treaters can print one from Webster County Public Health’s Facebook page.


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