With Halloween quickly approaching, experts are suggesting ways that students can safely celebrate the spooky holiday.
This Halloween, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has strictly prohibited carnivals, festivals, live entertainment and haunted houses, as large gatherings and events violate the social distancing requirements set forth by the county.
Trick-or-Treating is no longer banned by Los Angeles County public officials, but it is strongly discouraged as it jeopardizes social distancing techniques.
Rita Burke, an assistant professor of clinical preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, provided suggestions for students and families around Los Angeles to celebrate Halloween.
“There are a bunch of drives through movies that have opened up now throughout Los Angeles that are showing Halloween themed movies,” Burke mentioned. “There are some Halloween-themed drive through activities.”
Embracing creative ways to preserve normalcy in the face of the unprecedented is becoming a recurring process for students. Many USC students are adapting these alternatives, recognizing the threat that large parties and events could pose to themselves and their communities.
For example, Daniel Belkind, a sophomore majoring in psychology from his home in Denver, Colorado, suggested hosting a zoom party with friends. “You could do some sort of virtual celebration, you know, just organize some sort of Zoom or FaceTime thing and get to see your friends. Everybody can still kind of dress up,” Belkind suggested.
In a briefing by Chief Health Officer Dr. Sarah Van Orman on Oct. 22, she expressed concern that the approaching holiday and Nov. 7 football game could prompt a spike in coronavirus cases.
“With Halloween, with potentially our first game, there’s gonna be a normal want to get together, to party, to get together socially. So we’re really continuing asking students to be vigilant on that, and to remember that those things are still not safe and not permitted. And it would be very easy for us to have a very significant uptake again,” Van Orman said.
In a Student Health email sent on Oct. 26, the university reinforced that parties and large events are strictly off-limits, writing in bolded letters that “dormitories/residence halls, group living situations, boarding houses, fraternities and sororities” are not categorized as households, eliminating them from the new state rule that allows a household to host private gatherings held outdoors with a maximum of two other households.
The email reiterated that young people who contract the virus may be asymptomatic or recover quickly but can transmit the disease to older and at-risk populations. “Consideration for the health of our neighbors and our shared community family—some of whom have a disproportionate risk of disease severity and case fatality by age, race, and socioeconomic status—is a strong and valid concern,” the email said.
In a COVID-19 response update provided by Mayor Garcetti on Oct. 14, he echoed the idea of creating innovative ways to celebrate with friends and families.
“Create your own tradition this year but create one that is safe,” he said.