SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — As the holiday season approaches, health experts are offering tips on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus over the next few months. With just over three weeks until Halloween, health experts are urging Utahns to follow COVID-19 precautions.
“Do not have indoor Halloween parties,” said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases physician, during an Intermountain Healthcare COVID update Thursday. “You’ve got to stay outside.”
Stenehjem said he was particularly concerned with Utah’s COVID spike, with the state reporting a record 1,501 cases on Thursday. This number should be going down, he said — especially as it’s still warm outside.
However, the opposite is happening.
“This is the time where we should have the lowest number of cases,” Stenehjem said. “We can be outside, we can enjoy people’s company. This is the time where we should’ve driven this number down incredibly low, with anticipation of a spike.”
Halloween in the age of COVID-19
To combat the spread, the infectious diseases expert said Utahns should celebrate the upcoming holiday outdoors if possible. This includes setting out a bowl of candy for trick-or-treaters to grab, rather than interacting with each individually.
He also urges trick-or-treaters to limit group sizes and implement mask-wearing.
“Wear a mask,” Stenehjem said. “Incorporate it into your Halloween costume. I’m sure we’ll see some incredible, creative things this Halloween of superheroes with masks and all the like.”
This comes as Utah continues to report record-setting COVID-19 case numbers, with the flu season on the horizon. Stenehjem said the numbers were a “huge concern.”
“[This is] not the news we wanted today with the highest case counts ever recorded in Utah,” he said. “Clearly, we certainly have not righted the ship in terms of the pandemic.”
Experts warn of increased hospitalizations
With the increase of COVID cases, Stenehjem said it’s a matter of time until hospitals see an increase in COVID-19 patients. That’s because of the age groups experiencing a spike in cases.
Over the last three weeks, the state saw a spike within the 15-24 age group. Now those numbers are dropping, according to Stenehjem — but numbers for the 25-44 and 45-64 groups are increasing.
The physician said this is because young people are bringing the virus home to their parents and grandparents — who are more likely to be hospitalized with the coronavirus. Because of that, he said Utahns can expect to see hospitalization rates rise.
“[It’s a] concerning trend because we knew what was coming,” Stenehjem said. “Well, that reality is now.”
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