Crawford County Public Health Director Kim Fineran provided clarifying information on several topics concerning the coronavirus pandemic in an email on Friday.
Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidance on new quarantine rules and Halloween activities and Federal guidance on “essential workers” were the topics of the email.
Concerning the quarantine rules, Fineran noted that “It’s important to remember that both the positive person and those who come into contact with the positive person need to be consistently and correctly wearing a mask (over the nose and mouth). Gaiters and face shields are not considered appropriate face coverings when looking at these new guidelines.”
The IDPH quarantine information included an infographic about when individuals need to quarantine following a COVID-19 exposure (see page 5).
“Please remember that the goal is to prevent illness in our communities, not avoid quarantine. Please also remember that these new rules do not apply to household contact situations,” Fineran wrote.
“We want to emphasize that these recommendations are designed to help reduce illness in our communities. We realize that everyone is frustrated with the situation. While the majority of people experience mild symptoms that can be treated at home, some people get very seriously ill. The big tools that we have to help reduce the numbers of sick people in our communities include distancing (staying at least six feet away from others), wearing appropriate face masks if you cannot distance, avoiding large gatherings/groups of people, and reducing contact with others when you’re sick, you’ve tested positive, or you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive.”
According to the IDPH document, “For non-healthcare, non-residential settings, quarantine is no longer recommended if a potential exposure occurs while both the infectious individual and the close contacts are wearing face coverings consistently and correctly.”
An individual is considered “a close contact when they have been within six feet of the COVID-19 positive individual for 15 minutes.”
According to IDPH:
-Individuals who are a close contact due to exposure to a household member are required to quarantine for at least 14 days. Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others.
-Individuals who have COVID-19 must isolate for at least 10 days. Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home.
See the graphic posted with this article as a PDF document.
For Halloween 2020, IDPH encourages “…all Iowans to continue to take precautions to protect the health of themselves and their families. Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses.”
In the document provided by Fineran, IDPH encouraged Iowans to follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance when deciding on appropriate Halloween activities.
According to the CDC, lower-risk activities include pumpkin carving at home or outside at a safe distance from others; doing a Halloween scavenger hunt at a distance from others; virtual costume contests and other activities that keep people at a distance.
Moderate-risk activities include “one-way trick-or-treating” with individually-wrapped treats set at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard (individuals should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing treat bags); outdoor costume parades with social distancing; costume parties held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than six feet apart
The CDC document notes that Halloween costume masks are not a substitute for cloth masks.
“A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face. Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.”
Other moderate-risk activities include:
- Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than six feet apart; If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
- Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
According to the CDC, higher-risk activities include:
- Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
- Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
- Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
- Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
- Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
- Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
- Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19
Individuals who have COVID-19, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.
For the full list of recommendations, enter IDPH Halloween 2020 COVID-19 Guidance in an internet search engine.