Halloween fears: Infectious disease expert issues suggestions on how to avoid risks during pandemic

AVENTURA, Fla. – Dr. Bindu Mayi said this year’s Halloween is just too scary to allow children to engage in traditional trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods.

Mayi is an infectious disease expert with Nova Southeastern University, She and other experts want ghosts, witches, and zombies to avoid crowds, remember to wash their hands, and to wear face masks to protect their mouth and nose.

“They look so adorable and they’re so excited, but I think this is one year out of our entire lives and if we need to play it safe, we need to play it safe,” Mayi said.


Mayi said the coronavirus pandemic’s mortality rates and the data on hospitalizations show it is not a good time to take risks in South Florida. She fears that if people are not careful the situation could worsen.

“We do see young people getting severely ill and also succumbing to it ... we still don’t know who is going to be a long-hauler,” Mayi said.

Epidemiologists with the U.S. Centers for Disease and Protection issued guidelines for Halloween and El Dia De Los Muertos encouraging people to celebrate in the safety of their homes. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to host virtual costume parties, and the Florida Department of Health recommends open-air costume parades.

(Photo via Jaimie Swann Lepp)

“If you can get together with individuals who are family or close friends and you know that they have been social distancing, they haven’t been increasing their risk, that would be a way to do it.," Mayi said.

If you must distribute candy, epidemiologists want you to wash your hands, clean and disinfect the packaging, dry it, and pack it in individual bags. To avoid direct contact with people, set up a clean station with alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer, and individually bagged items.

Ultimately, Mayi said she doesn’t want parents and children to take unnecessary risks.

“We really don’t know what the long-term consequences of this infection will be, whether they will have neurological complications, heart complications, years down the road,” Mayi said. “We don’t know.”

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About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.