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.
Publish date:

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. 

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

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. 

Next Up

canterbury park

New concert series coming to Canterbury Park this summer

The series will feature six concerts starting in August.

Screen Shot 2021-06-15 at 7.12.44 AM

Former KARE 11 reporter Ivory Hecker fired by Houston news station

She went viral after claiming live, on-air, she was being muzzled by her employer.

Harrison Smith

Zimmer says his unvaccinated players will have 'harder time' this season

Vaccinated players will experience a more normal 2021 season.

covid, vaccine

Hennepin County approves $100,000 budget for vaccine incentives

The resolution will invest $100,000 in federal funding for the vaccine incentive program.

LRT trail in Hopkins.

Juvenile suspect arrested in assault on woman on Hopkins trail

Police say the suspect followed the woman onto the trail and assaulted her.


Motorcyclist dies after he hit deer, was struck by trailer and semi-truck

The crash happened early Tuesday morning in Mille Lacs County.


16-year-old boy dies after Minneapolis hit-and-run

The boy was either walking or skateboarding when he was hit.


Police crack down on Lake Street protesters, remove barricades in Uptown

Arrests were made and crowd control munitions used on demonstrators during the operation.


trick-or-treating, Halloween

Traditional trick-of-treating a no-no, but MDH say there are ways to make it safer

There are safer ways to do trick-or-treating than going door-to-door, health officials say.

Screen Shot 2020-05-27 at 1.47.56 PM

COVID-19 fall peak? Osterholm not expecting a massive 2nd wave

The fall peak has long been dubbed a "worst-case scenario" by Dr. Osterholm.

Screen Shot 2020-05-27 at 1.47.56 PM

Osterholm reiterates COVID-19 going dormant could be bad signal

The infectious disease specialist has said this a few times now.

trick-or-treating, Halloween

Coronavirus: Will MN ban trick-or-treating like Los Angeles County?

A state health official says it's premature to decide right now.

PPE, coronavirus, covid-19

U of M's Dr. Michael Osterholm discusses the future of the pandemic

Osterholm has been preaching what he calls "straight talk" about the pandemic.

coronavirus, Iowa

Osterholm: Walz's restrictions could slow COVID-19 'maybe a little bit'

Osterholm believes much stricter mandates are needed to slow the pandemic.


What Dr. Michael Osterholm says about new coronavirus strains

"What we're seeing right now in England I think is going to be a harbinger of things to come," said Osterholm.