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To stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic this Halloween, the Mayo Clinic recommends a layered approach while trick-or-treating. 

As Minnesotans look toward a Halloween that feels more normal this year, the Mayo Clinic is offering tips to keep children, especially those under 12 who are not yet eligible to get the COVID vaccine, safe. 

"For vaccinated kids over 12 years old, we would say trick-or-treating this year is fine. We obviously want to avoid any situation where large groups of people are gathering still. And, so, trick-or-treating in small groups, is what we would recommend if your kids are looking forward to doing that this year," Rajapakse said. 

Related [Oct. 11]: Dr. Fauci says trick-or-treating this year is OK, 'enjoy it'

Related [Oct. 4]: Here are the CDC's COVID-19 guidelines for the holidays this year

But for younger kids who want to trick-or-treat, Rajapaske says: "This is where using these additional strategies to help keep everyone safe really becomes more important."

Those include wearing a mask, avoiding crowded indoors spaces, practicing physical distancing of 6 feet as much as possible, and washing hands frequently. 

Rajapaske says with trick-or-treating, there is "some likelihood" kids will be in contact with people outside their home and there may be some gathering at doorsteps, so wearing a mask offers that extra layer of protection. 

"Thankfully, Halloween is a holiday that usually comes along with masks. There are a lot of fun things and fun prints you can do with masks and help keep everyone safe," Rajapaske said. 

Rajapaske added, "All these different strategies together help protect that group because kids under 12 are probably going to make up most of the kids who want to trick or treat this year."

This advice comes when COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths nationwide have been trending downward after a late-summer surge fueled by the highly contagious delta variant. However, in Minnesota, cases are still rising. In fact, cases are rising faster in Minnesota than anywhere else in the U.S., driven largely by substantial increases in many greater Minnesota counties.

Related [Oct. 15]: Walz puts National Guard on alert, expands emergency staffing pool to ease hospital strain

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