Johnson County officials advise on trick-or-treating safely

Officials of Johnson County are suggesting safety tips on how families can stay healthy and prepared on Halloween.


Raquele Decker

Photo illustration by Raquele Decker.

Madeleine Willis, News Reporter

As Halloween approaches, Johnson County officials and community workers are preparing the community to remain safe and healthy.

Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci recently released a statement to The Washington Post encouraging children to go trick-or-treating. He announced there has been a decrease in COVID-19 cases nationwide. He said he believes the U.S. has surpassed a spike in delta variant cases from the summer.

Johnson County  is mirroring the national downward trend in novel coronavirus cases. Rates of COVID-19 in Johnson County is the lowest it has been in three weeks, averaging less than 40 cases a day.

Johnson County Community Health Division Manager Sam Jarvis agreed with Fauci’s statement.

“Within the past couple of weeks, we have also experienced the number of cases decrease,” he said.

Jarvis has witnessed a downward trend in the last month and a half. He said he believes the county is still within high transmission rates but anticipates lower transmission as time goes on.

Jarvis said some of the tips he suggests to community members to have a safe Halloween in 2021 are:

  • If children are ill, Jarvis encourages them to stay home.
  • Children should be physically distancing themselves at all times.
  • It is apparent that lines can easily form while waiting in lines for candy, but children should do their best to keep a minimum distance of three feet in between them.
  • Kids to mask up with cloth masks, not a Halloween mask.

Jarvis also encourages children to attend Halloween events this year, he said the downward trend makes trick-or-treating safer.

“Life has to go on, major milestones will occur, and calendar events will come up,” he said.

RELATED: Johnson County Department of Public Health promotes healthy and safe Halloween

Johnson County and the country have gone back to many of their pre-pandemic activities, Jarvis said, and people must go about such events safely.

Not every Johnson County community is doing business as usual, however: The City of Oxford, situated in western Johnson County, has announced it will not be promoting a community trick or treat on Halloween, the city said in a Facebook post, citing cases of COVID-19 and RSV, another respiratory virus.

The Oxford American Legion will instead be having a “Truck or Treat” on Halloween, the post said.

But safety doesn’t just stop there. Iowa City’s Public Safety Information Officer Lee Hermiston also shared some tips.

Iowa City’s trick-or-treat night will take place on Oct. 31 from 5:30 until 8:00 pm. As winter is drawing closer and Daylight’s Savings Time approaches, it is getting darker earlier.

Hermiston urges children to carry a flashlight with them; he said this make sure they are visible at all times. Children should also safely cross the street in designated intersections, he said, and not run across the block.

This being said, Lee said he wants all drivers to be alert on Halloween.

“Kids get excited,” he said. “It is important to be on the lookout for kids who do run out in the street.”

The final safety tip Hermiston advises is that children are always watched. It is important to have a responsible adult, sibling, or teen with youth at all times, he said.