LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County officials walked back a ban on trick-or-treating Wednesday during a briefing on the county’s coronavirus response.
While initially releasing guidelines that stated trick-or-treating was not allowed this Halloween, health officials Wednesday issued updated guidelines that stated trick-or-treating and its mobile counterpart truck-or-treating were “not recommended,” and called for caution surrounding upcoming holidays.
“We don’t think it’s an appropriate activity during a pandemic,” Ferrer said. “There’s no guarantee when you go trick-or-treating that your child goes up to a house where the person who opens the door is wearing a face covering, and when you don’t know the people opening the door, there’s no guarantee that they’re not sick.”
Other options put forward by the county include car parades, virtual parties, drive-in movies and other events that allow for social distancing and do not include large groups of people gathering.
“We do ask that people begin to think ahead about how they’re going to navigate the fall and the winter carefully — and this includes planning for the upcoming Halloween for this year,” Ferrer said. “It’s just simply not safe to celebrate in the ways that we usually do.”
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health also reported 671 newly confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 61 new deaths Wednesday, bringing countywide totals to 249,859 cases and 6,090 deaths.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said the unusually low number of cases reported over the past few days are a result of a holiday reporting lag and the closure of many testing sites throughout the county due to the weekend’s dangerously high temperatures.
As of Wednesday, there were 936 confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized with 33% being treated in intensive care units and 18% on ventilators.
Health officials also clarified rules for reopening schools for specialized services and which business sectors have been allowed to reopen for modified indoor activity and outdoor activity as well as those that must still remain closed.
“As we announced last week, the governor has an opportunity for all counties, regardless of what tier you’re in, to reopen all schools for special services for high-risk, high-needs students,” Ferrer said. “Here in L.A. County, this includes students with individualized education plans, English-language learners, other students that need assessments and support that can’t be provided through virtual learning.”
Schools will be allowed to reopen for these students five days after submitting a notification to the health department stating that they have adequate personal protective equipment, a plan for testing and outbreak management and have completed the protocol paperwork.
And while some sectors remain closed in L.A. County, Ferrer said many businesses have been allowed to reopen and get employees back to work while not increasing the infection rate.
“We have been, I think, extraordinarily successful in the month of August to bring down our community transmission rates,” she said. “And we prevented a catastrophic level of demand on our healthcare system. We were successful in large part because people and business owners and operators followed what we know are the best public health practices.”
With nearly 2.4 million test results available, the county’s positivity rate was holding steady at 10%.