FRANKFORT, Ky. — No, that Batman mask doesn't count as a face covering.
At his regular coronavirus briefing Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear and Kentucky health officials unveiled guidelines for safe Halloween activities and trick-or-treating best practices amid the pandemic.
“We have put together the best guidance we can for Halloween to be safe, but we can’t do things exactly like we did before, and we all oughta know that. Having a big party right now during COVID puts everybody at risk. Let’s not ruin Halloween for our kids by it spreading a virus that can harm people they love,” Beshear said.
For safe trick-or-treating this year, Kentucky health officials recommend placing individually wrapped candy outside on porches, driveways or tables and to maintain a social distance of six feet from anyone not in your household.
Face coverings are required for trick-or-treaters (and Halloween masks don't count). Health officials recommend cleaning hands before and after touching wrapped candy, as well as after touching high-contact surfaces and before eating anything.
Parents are asked to wipe down candy wrappers with sanitizing wipes and to allow their children to eat only factory-wrapped treats. That means avoiding homemade treats from individuals you don't know. Families are also asked to keep children home if they are feeling sick.
Kentucky health officials recommend avoiding "higher-risk activities" this Halloween, including:
- Traditional trick-or-treat where treats are handed to children going door-to-door.
- Trunk-or-treat events where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.
- Costume parties.
- Haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming.
- Hayrides or tractor rides.
- Fall festivals outside your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.
- Any event with large crowds.
Instead, health officials recommend low- or moderate-risk Halloween activities, like:
- Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and display them.
- Hosting a virtual Halloween costume contest.
- Having a scavenger hunt for Halloween treats with people in or around your home instead of going house to house.
- Watching Halloween movies with people you live with.
- Hold drive-by costume or car decorating contests with socially-distanced judges.
- Holding an outdoor parade where people are social distanced at least six feet apart.
- Visiting a pumpkin patch or orchard where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples. Don't forget to mask up and keep your distance.
- Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family and friends, observing social distancing and limiting the event to 10 or fewer guests.
Kentucky’s Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack urged Kentuckians to make 2020 Halloween activities about children celebrating and to avoid hosting large gatherings where COVID-19 may spread easily.
“Let’s have fun for the kids, let’s make it a safe event,” said Stack.
For more information and the full list of suggested Halloween activities, click here.
COVID-19 in Kentucky
On Thursday, the governor reported 910 new COVID-19 cases and 17 virus-related deaths.
For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic started, Kentucky saw more than 1,000 new cases reported on two consecutive days as Beshear announced 1,004 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. Beshear had reported 1,018 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the second-highest daily case count Kentucky has seen since March.
Kentucky has seen at least 69,728 total cases of COVID-19 and 1,191 total deaths, and Kentucky's coronavirus positivity rate sits 4.11%, a decline mainly due to a ramp-up of testing. In September, 241 Kentuckians lost their lives to the virus, the deadliest month the state has seen so far in terms of the virus. So far, more than 11,970 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered from COVID-19, and the state has now administered more than 1.4 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began.
Beshear renewed his call to all Kentuckians to continue wearing masks around others, observe social distancing, limit travel and gatherings, get tested, and stay home if they feel sick.
With Hamilton and Clermont counties in Ohio re-entering “red” status, indicating "very high exposure and spread" in areas that border Northern Kentucky counties, Beshear said COVID-19 in the Cincinnati area remains a concern.
“My hope is that they take steps, similar to the steps we’ve taken, to help stop that spread,” Beshear said.
NKY Health reported that 4,644 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 96 people have reportedly died of the virus. The health department reports 897 active cases and 3,651 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Thursday.
Extra $400 unemployment payment out
As part of Kentucky’s extra aid through FEMA’s Lost Wages Assistance, Beshear reported that the first three weeks of $400 payments have already gone out. A fourth payment is expected to be sent out Tuesday night, with a fifth payment set to go out Oct. 1 and a sixth payment set to go out Oct. 5.
Between 108,000 and 114,000 unemployed Kentuckians who qualified for the extra assistance have received it each week, Beshear said.
At his briefing Wednesday, the governor called for more federal help through a possible second CARES Act or presidential order that would help Kentucky and other state governments avoid an economic recession through the coronavirus pandemic.
"What it will cause if they don't do it, is cuts in state government, which then cycle through the economy," Beshear said.
Ernst & Young continues to help process a backlog of unemployment claims in Kentucky, helping to resolve 996 written determinations and sorting over 10,000 written determinations the governor said.
Find free COVID-19 testing in NKY
In Northern Kentucky, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Covington's Gravity Diagnostics offers free, appointment-only drive-thru testing at 25 Atlantic Ave in Erlanger, the former Toyota HQ building off Mineola Pike.
The site is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. You will be able to collect your own sample without leaving your vehicle and receive results within three to five days.
Additionally, appointment-only drive-up testing is available through St. E at 7200 Alexandria Pike, Alexandria. The free testing site is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: