Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced last week that local communities, individuals and parents will make the final decisions on whether to hold or participate in Halloween festivities like trick or treat. Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner told The Times-Gazette that the Highland County Health Department will not provide any additional guidance as he felt the Ohio Department of Health (ODH)’s guidelines were “good.”
“We encourage people to do the same things we have been talking about for six months: mask up, back up, wash up,” Warner said. “We wish everyone a happy Halloween!”
The ODH recommended canceling and avoiding hayrides, haunted houses and large parties, according to guidelines released Friday and updated Monday.
The ODH recommended limiting parties to 10 people or less and avoiding activities like bobbing for apples that “foster the spread of infection.”
When trick or treating, the ODH recommended limiting the number of houses one visits, wiping off candy wrappers with sanitizing wipes, and carrying hand sanitizer while visiting houses.
For each event, the ODH recommended practicing social distancing by maintaining a six-foot distance from those not in one’s household, wearing face coverings, and washing or sanitizing hands frequently.
The ODH also offered alternative ways to celebrate the holiday, such as holding drive-thru trick or treat events, hiding treats around one’s home, and holding virtual costume parties and pumpkin-carving parties.
To view the full document detailing guidelines for parents and guardians, community members, and the operators of events and attractions, visit https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/responsible/celebrating-halloween.pdf.
Warner encouraged those who have an event or activity planned and who have specific questions to call the health department at 937-393-1941.
In a news release last week, Highland County Juvenile and Probate Court Judge Kevin Greer suggested that Highland County cities, villages and organizations that elect to have Beggars’ Night should do so from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29.
Highland County’s COVID-19 numbers as of Monday:
Highland County has had a total of 242 lab-confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, according to the Highland County Health Department.
In a previous Facebook post, Warner stated that probable cases must “[meet] clinical criteria AND epidemiologic evidence with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID-19” or “[meet] presumptive laboratory evidence AND either clinical criteria OR epidemiologic evidence.”
The health department has documented 21 probable cases in Highland County since the pandemic began.
The health department also reported that there were currently 10 actively sick patients and two COVID-19-related hospitalizations, and the health department is currently monitoring 68 people for symptoms.
In a Facebook post last week, the health department reported that the number of people it was monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 had increased significantly due to exposure at a large gathering. While the health department is monitoring individuals for symptoms, those individuals are asked to quarantine.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak reached Highland County, there have been a total of 26 COVID-19-related hospitalizations and four COVID-19-related deaths, and 228 patients have recovered from COVID-19.
According to the ODH, which reported 220 cases in the county to date as of Monday, of the cases in Highland County:
* 39 cases involved 50- to 59-year-olds, three of whom were hospitalized.
* 36 cases involved 40- to 49-year-olds, three of whom were hospitalized.
* 34 cases involved 70- to 79-year-olds, eight of whom were hospitalized and one of whom later died.
* 34 cases involved 60- to 69-year-olds, five of whom were hospitalized and one of whom later died.
* 30 cases involved 20- to 29-year-olds, one of whom was hospitalized.
* 22 cases involved 30- to 39-year-olds, one of whom was hospitalized.
* 19 cases involved 0- to 19-year-olds, one of whom was hospitalized.
* Five cases involved someone 80 years old or older, four of whom were hospitalized and two of whom later died.
* One case involved someone of an unknown age range.
For more information on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.