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Infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm says trick-or-treating can be done safely

The infectious disease expert's opinion doesn't align with the CDC's guidance.

While door-to-door trick-or-treating isn't being advised as a safe activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's an activity that one of the nation's most respected infectious disease experts believes can be done safely. 

Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said in his podcast Thursday that people should "go ahead with" trick-or-treating, so long as you're smart about it. 

"This is our COVID year. Trying to find the balance of what the risk of transmission might be and what we can do, I think Halloween is actually one of those ones that actually offers us an opportunity, not necessarily something that closes us off," Osterholm said. 

Osterholm, who is a frequent guest providing expert advise on the pandemic at both the local and national media levels, says trick-or-treating can be done safely so long as families stick together, avoid going in other houses, and moving on after 10-15 seconds at each door. 

"I think Halloween is one you could do. You don't want to get together with a lot of other people. You don't want to be in somebody's house," he said. "I would say go ahead with it and just remember distance." 

"Let's celebrate Halloween and then realize we have some other challenges coming down the pipe with other holidays," Osterholm added. 

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Osterholm's advice comes after the Minnesota Department of Health noted that while the CDC considers trick-or-treating a high risk activity for COVID-19, the CDC doesn't flat out say "thou shall not" trick-or-treat. 

"They don't say 'thou shall not,' said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director with the Minnesota Department of Health. "They just say that if you're looking at levels of risk of how you choose celebrate Halloween, that would be something they would recommend against."

For people uncomfortable with face-to-face encounters with trick-or-treats, the CDC says wrapping goodie bags and lining them up at the end of your driveway or edge of your yard could be a safe alternative. 

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