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As virus looms, Minnesota offers trick-or-treat alternatives

Associated Press

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Minnesota health officials warned Wednesday against traditional Halloween festivities as warmer weather is expected to coincide with the holiday this weekend amid an increase in virus cases statewide in recent weeks.

Instead of high-risk activities like traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating and attending indoor haunted houses, the Minnesota Department of Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are providing guidance on their website describing how to celebrate Halloween amid the pandemic.

The guidance describes lower-risk activities as carving pumpkins and decorating homes, virtual gatherings and in-home activities with household members like watching a movie. Individually wrapped bags of candy may substitute for traditional trick-or-treating to avoid close contact as children go door-to-door.

Kris Ehresmann, the state’s infectious diseases director, said during a media briefing Wednesday that warmer weather may provide opportunities for small outdoor gatherings, but cautioned against disregarding public health guidelines as virus infections rise steadily.

“Getting together with even a relatively small group of people from outside of your household is riskier now than it was a month ago, so definitely keep that in mind,” she said. “Enjoy the holiday, enjoy the weather, but please look for safe ways to do it for your sake and for the good of your community.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey recently released a video asking city residents to celebrate the holiday virtually or to wear a mask and exercise social distancing if they take their children trick-or-treating.

The state health department reported 1,916 new cases of the coronavirus and 19 new deaths on Wednesday. The new numbers put Minnesota’s total cases since the pandemic began at 139,444 and brings total deaths to 2,387.

The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Minnesota has risen over the past two weeks from 1,262 on Oct. 13 to 1,715 on Monday, according to The COVID Tracking Project. Case counts statewide jumped over 2,000 three times in the past two weeks, and the state has reported more than 1,000 new daily cases for the last 21 days.

Neighboring states continue to see the highest per capita case growth in the nation with more than 1,200 new cases per 100,000 people in both North Dakota and South Dakota in the past 14 days.

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