While some thrills and chills are always welcome this time of year, one scary thing was very unwelcome in recent years - COVID-19. So, just how safe is trick-or-treating over two years after the pesky coronavirus showed up to ruin everyone's good time, and what can we do to make it just a little safer?

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ARE PARENTS READY FOR THEIR CHILDREN TO GO TRICK OR TREATING?

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First, the good news. So far, 68.1% of the population of Texas has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Now, the vaccine doesn't create a magical forcefield that keeps the virus out of anyone's system, but it can keep symptoms relatively mild and hopefully keep vulnerable people out of the hospital. Of the 32,751 cases reported in Bell County over the course of the pandemic, 31,051 have fully recovered.

The bad news is that Bell County's threat level is currently set to HIGH. According to the Bell County Public Health District, that means:

1. Demonstrated reduction in transmission due to public health measures and/or other factors.

2. Public health (testing and contact tracing) systems within capacity.

3. Healthcare systems within capacity.

So, obviously better than SEVERE, but not great.

IS THE COAST CLEAR?

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The virus hasn't magically gone away, but things have mostly returned to normal as far as celebrations and gatherings are concerned.

Still, there are some sensible steps you and your family should take just to make sure you're being as safe as you can. Remember: Even if you're an asymptomatic carrier or your case of COVID-19 isn't severe, there's always a possibility you could spread it to someone who's vulnerable to worst effects of the disease.

Don't forget that monkeypox is out there too, as are cold and flu viruses.

With that in mind, there are some simply safety tips that can help everyone have a Happy Halloween:

  • Carry hand sanitizer with you, and use it before touching your face, mouth, or eyes, or anything you plan to pop in your mouth.
  • Incorporate a cloth mask into your costume if possible.
  • Give people a wide berth while trick-or-treating. We're not "socially distancing" much these days, but it's still a good idea. (Remember, flu virus and colds are still floating around too.)
  • Never allow very young children to trick-or-treat alone.
  • Only trick-or-treat at homes with the porch light on, and NEVER go inside.
  • Use sidewalks and stay out of the middle of the road.
  • Carry a flashlight, glowstick, or reflective material so you're nice and bright for any passing cars.
  • ALWAYS check your child's candy bag before they dig in, and throw out any candy that looks suspicious or bad.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, CENTRAL TEXAS!

I’ve asked a lot of parents in a private group on social media will they be taking their kids trick-or-treating, and a lot of parents feel that this year is much safer even though there are viruses out there like monkeypox and corona. Most seemed to feel that as long as they are very attentive on checking their candy and making sure that their children are close to them, their child will still enjoy an amazing Halloween

So, just be sensible. If you have a child or other family member at high risk, take extra precautions or plan to celebrate at home. Otherwise, take the safety tips above to heart, and don't let fear stop you from taking your family out for some frights and fun.

Happy Halloween!

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