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Halloween guidelines issued

At least no one should object to the ‘wear your mask’ recommendation

LISBON — With only 20 new coronavirus cases in the past week, Columbiana County went down to a level one, yellow, on the state’s public health advisory map, while at the same time Gov. Mike DeWine’s office issued guidance on which Halloween activities have the green light.

“Some of the larger events this fall are going to be a challenge,” said county Health Commissioner Wes Vins, adding the health department is willing to work with organizations and communities trying to plan events. “We may need to reinvent Halloween.”

Directions from the governor’s office recommends hayrides, haunted houses and bobbing for apples be canceled or avoided this year.

Additionally, trick or treating events should be done as socially distant as possible. Suggestions include wearing a mask, holding drive-through events with the children in cars or the judges for costume contests driving by children six feet apart, leaving treats outside and not allowing children to choose their own treats from the bowl. One idea was sliding wrapped candy down a PVC pipe to the child to keep everyone apart or hanging the treats on a fence or wall.

Further suggestions for parents are to avoid homemade treats from strangers, wipe down candy wrappers with sanitizing wipes and carry hand sanitizer for everyone to use if they should come into contact with surfaces.

Columbiana County’s return to yellow is a reflection of recent historical data. The county met only one indicator of community spread with 100 percent of the new cases between Sept. 9-15 all non-congregate cases, which means they were not residents of long-term care facilities or the federal prison.

Of the 20 new cases since last Friday (Sept. 11-18), county health department public information officer Laura Fauss said 15 are community members, while four are long-term care facility residents and one is an inmate at the federal prison in Elkton.

There have been 1,922 cases in the county since the pandemic began — 959 inmates, 771 community members and 192 long-term care facility residents. Of the 1,843 positive cases who have survived at this time, 1,827 have recovered.

New dashboards on the coronavirus.ohio.gov website show since the beginning of the virus, Columbiana County has had 39 children, those 18 and under, test positive for the coronavirus. Additionally, the Columbiana district is the only one which has had any reported cases since school began with two positives more than a week ago.

Vins credits the schools, families, sports teams and others involved in extra curricular activities for working hard and being responsible. He said he continues to meet with the school superintendents looking at small changes they can make involving cafeterias, addressing concerns about homecoming activities and other questions.

Besides urging everyone to continue social distancing, wearing their masks and washing their hands, Vins and Fauss said they want everyone to consider getting a flu vaccine this fall. By preventing the flu as much as possible, Vins said it lowers the risk stressing the hospitals and other health care facilities in the county. Additionally, Fauss said we do not know a lot about what happens to those who get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

Information about flu vaccines through the health department is expected in October, but pharmacies are also expected to have them. Vins said there is no shortage.

“We want to encourage even those who have said in the past, the flu vaccine is not for me, to take a second look at it this year,” Vins said.

Finally, the health department is reminding people to fill out their census forms by the deadline the end of September, noting that much of the grant money and supplies for COVID-19 sent to the county were based on how many people live here and were being served by the local health departments and hospitals.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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