Official: Masks under costumes OK for Halloween

Three new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Jefferson County while one was added in Clallam County early this week.

Both counties remained in the state’s low-risk category Monday, with Jefferson County’s rate rising to 9.4 cases per 100,000 population during the past two weeks and Clallam County’s rate dropping to 24 per 100,000.

The three cases in Jefferson County include one female in her 70s, a female in her 40s and a male in his 50s, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.

The newest case in Clallam County is believed to have contracted the virus from a source outside of the county, said Dr. Allison Unthank, the county health officer.

There were concerns that a protest on behalf of Republican gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp that had more than 1,300 attendees more than two weeks ago could cause a surge in cases on the North Olympic Peninsula, but Unthank said she’s not aware of any cases connected to it.

“I think one of our worries is that there might be a lower tendency to get tested among folks who went to the Culp rally,” she said. “But we have not yet seen any cases as a result from that.”

With Halloween coming at the end of the month, Unthank is urging people to participate in activities that avoid large gatherings.

Unthank said door-to-door trick-or-treating with household members is one of the lower-risk activities as long as people continue to wear cloth or surgical face coverings — most Halloween masks do not qualify as a cloth face mask for COVID-19 — either under costume masks or incorporated into costumes and by distancing from other groups of people, she said.

“Some households have even gone further and set up like chutes for candies so they can keep everybody six feet apart,” Unthank said. “I think that is fantastic.

“I think it’s a relatively low-risk activity to trick-or-treat as your own household,” she said. “We don’t recommend gathering with additional households to trick-or-treat.”

Other activities Unthank recommended against include annual city gatherings that have occurred in the past but are not planned for this year, in addition to Halloween parties, she said.

“We’ve already seen (Halloween) parties start to creep up a little bit,” Unthank said. “We still strongly recommend against parties. Large groups of folks — especially indoors — is a really good way to spread this virus.”

Clallam County has confirmed 252 cases of COVID-19 since March, with 11 active cases — one of whom is currently hospitalized — and one death, according to Clallam County Public Health data.

Jefferson County has confirmed 75 cases of COVID-19 since March, with four active case and no deaths, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.