Next mass gathering holiday on the map: Halloween.
As the first Halloween of the COVID-19 pandemic era, county leaders have to weigh in on what they will allow. Even though the number of new cases and deaths has trended down in recent weeks compared to surges in late June and after the July 4th holiday it’s highly unlikely that South Florida will celebrate Halloween like it’s 2019.
Will we welcome the kind of Halloween bacchanalia of years’ past on Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road Mall or even the traditional trick-or-treating around neighborhoods? (Is that still a thing, we ask, as we still have uncollected M&Ms packets tucked into cupboards?)
According to Patricia Abril, a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s Office and Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Halloween plans in the county have yet to be decided. “We should know by Oct. 15 where we are heading as far as infection rates and hospitalizations and also flu season before making any decisions about Halloween,” she said.
And Miami Beach spokeswoman Melissa Berthier said “the city will not be issuing any special permits for activations or Halloween parties this year.”
While we await the verdict, the Hershey’s candy company, using a map created by the Harvard Global Health Institute, affords some guidance on the topic where trick or treating is concerned on Oct. 31.
The map of the United States lets users hover over a color-coded county — which is marked green, yellow, orange or red — based on the COVID-19 risk level in that county. Green means the lowest risk and then in ascending value from yellow to orange to red, which represents the highest risk.
How Florida fares on Harvard’s COVID map
Florida may tout itself as a green state for its foliage but the Harvard map doesn’t see any county in green — as in low risk for COVID-19.
As for Sept. 17, the closest green county in proximity to Florida appears to be Worth County in Georgia, which, according to the Harvard map, has 0.7 new daily cases on a seven day average per 100,000 people, 514 total cases and 29 deaths.
By comparison, Miami-Dade County is Code Orange with 14 new daily cases per 100,000 people, 380.3 daily new cases on a seven day average per 100,000 people, 164,688 total cases and 2,923 deaths.
(The Florida Department of Health dashboard on Sept. 17 reported 165,595 total confirmed cases and 2,977 deaths).
Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties are yellow, meaning less risky currently compared to Miami-Dade. But not green.
Florida has a number of red-zone counties, including Alachua, Hardee, Leon and Madison.
How does this tie in to trick-or-treating?
The Hershey candy company is using the map and its color codes to recommend how people ought to best celebrate Halloween in 2020.
On Hershey’s Halloween Like We’ve Never Seen map, the company has broken it down like this:
For Code Orange counties, like Miami-Dade’s, Hershey recommends “trick or treat in reverse,” by which you and the kids hang out in your front yard as neighbors walk or drive by and deliver candy. Or a “trick or treat drive by” in which you “ride on over to visit friends and fam in costume! Honk, text or shout upon arrival and deliver some treats or tricks in costume to your fave folks!”
Or just play “Rocky Horror Picture Show” again on TV.
For Code Yellow counties, like the rest of South Florida, among Hershey’s suggestions is one called “Yeet the treats,” which is supposedly some millennial term by which you “throw something forcefully in a specified direction.” This candy toss is not unlike when people on parade floats threw candies at kids standing along the parade route for them to catch and keep.
“This time, homeowners will yeet candy from 6 feet away as costumed kids travel safely up and down sidewalks.”