Halloween Safety 2020

While seasons change, Ozarks Medical Center officials remind everyone in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas that the recommendations to lower the risks of contracting COVID-19 and flattening the curve remain in place.

As Halloween and other holidays approach, officials note, it is important for communities to remember guidelines recommended by national and local health authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are high, moderate and low-risk Halloween activities.

Higher risk activities should be avoided to limit the risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19. These activities include door-to-door, traditional trick-or-treating where treats are physically handed to children, crowded costume parties held indoors and trunk-or-treat events where treats are physically handed out from vehicle trunks closely spaced in large parking lots.

Moderate-risk activities include participating in one-way trick-or-treating where treats are packaged and spaced individually for pickup on a surface rather than being mixed in a bowl. Attending an open-air, one-way, walk-through “haunted forest” where appropriate face mask usage and 6-foot social distancing can be accommodated is considered to be another moderate risk activity.

Low-risk activities include carving pumpkins with family members in the same household, decorating one’s house, participating in an outdoor scavenger hunt or hosting a virtual Halloween costume contest.

For more suggestions for safe and festive Halloween activities visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html#halloween.

While COVID-19 case numbers across the state have climbed, OMC officials say the local health system remains stable and prepared for continued COVID-19 volumes as the pandemic progresses.

“We have anywhere from five to 11 patients suffering from COVID-19 infection admitted in the hospital at any one time,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. William McGee. “We continue to have hundreds of calls through our COVID-19 hotline each day and test patients who need testing. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We have yet to see the finish line, and I hope the community has this mindset too.”

“It is hard to not gather with family and friends during the holidays,” McGee continued, “but it is even harder to care for your loved ones when they have contracted the virus because of not adhering to the recommendations.”

“I am proud of the team that we have at OMC,” said hospital President and CEO Tom Keller. “We prepared ourselves in the first few months of the onset of COVID-19 to ensure that we would not be overwhelmed when we hit a spike, which we have experienced the last few weeks. We are equipped with staff, personal protective equipment, medical devices including ventilators and strong relationships in the healthcare community to care for our patients’ needs.”

Anyone with questions regarding COVID-19, is invited to call OMC’s COVID-19 hotline at 417=505-7120. The hotline is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

Ozarks Medical Center is a system of care encompassing eight primary care and 17 specialty clinics, along with complete rehabilitation, behavioral healthcare, and home care services. While the 114-bed acute care hospital cares for more than 5,400 admissions, the entire medical system has more than 364,000 patient visits annually in South Central Missouri and Northern Arkansas. For more about OMC, visit www.OzarksMedicalCenter.com.

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