Medical experts say that things like trick-or-treating are practically made for social distancing.By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Welcome to October! It’s the month of Harvest and Halloween. COVID-19 certainly took a bite out of the festivities last year, so will this year be any better? Will the kids get to go trick-or-treating?

Yes! says Dr. Randy Peters of Allegheny Health Network in part because one of the COVID issues from last year is gone — the fear of catching COVID by touch. “You don’t have to worry about getting COVID from your candy or from handouts and so on.”

So he says bring on the ghosts, goblins, super heros, and princesses. “I’m kind of excited because trick or treating is almost the perfect activity for being able to celebrate Halloween.”

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky agrees, saying “I think that we should be able to let our kids go trick or treating, in small groups.”

It’s not that COVID-19 has gone away. Quite the contrary. Since around the start of the school year, over 5,000 school-aged children have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Southwestern Pennsylvania, which might era. reason for concern about trick-or-treating. Dr. Peters says trick-or-treating checks the boxes on some things to avoid. “Closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact.”

Dr. Peters says the annual tradition was made for social distancing, “A kid comes up to your doorstep, doesn’t enter your house. Yeah, they yell trick or treat from a distance, as we’ve always done.”

Dr. Walensky agrees, “If you’re able to be outdoors, absolutely.”

But if you are unvaccinated, or quarantining, Dr. Peters says, “That household should not participate in handing out stuff but you can still participate in contactless candy delivery, just as a lot of people did last year.”

As for having a fall or halloween party Dr. Peters says, “All of that can happen with plenty of wide open spaces outdoors if you can, you don’t need to not have fun. You can do it. If you have a party outdoors in your backyard with a tent setup, that’s open air. That’s far safer than indoors.”

He also suggests if your gathering is including people outside those you live with, “once you start getting to a gathering, then people should be wearing a mask.” He says that’s especially true for children who have not been able to be vaccinated yet.

Dr. Peters says if you have a gathering of 25 people or more in one place for three hours, the risk goes up, but there are things you can do to reduce the risk. “Keep the eating spaces separate, and have like individual arrangements for eating spaces, to keep that separate from the other spaces for socialization.”

It is clearly the unknown that creates the risk, and Dr. Peters says if you don’t know the vaccination status of everyone you are with, then wearing a mask is your best defense.

A spot check of area communities indicates most are going to stick with Halloween on the 31st, even though it is a Sunday. By the way the Steelers do play that day, but they will be on the road in Cleveland and the game should be over long before the candy collection begins.