Things That Matter

Can Halloween Be Saved? Experts Say Yes If You Follow These Important Guidelines

No matter what you plan on doing this year for Halloween, it’s obvious that this year’s Halloween celebrations are going to look and feel wildly different from years past.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has interrupted many of our annual traditions, it seems that Americans are dead-set on celebrating Halloween as if it were business as usual. A recent Harris Poll survey suggests that more than 70% of millennial moms are planning to make “the most” of Halloween with their families, with 80% of all surveyed saying that heading out to trick-or-treat is at the top of their list of things to do on Halloween.

But with Covid-19 cases rising in 26 states, is trick-or-treating considered a safe activity? Here’s what you need to know from several health experts on how you can still celebrate safely.

It’s been a tough year and many Americans refuse to let 2020 take away Halloween.

Despite an ongoing pandemic, most Americans seem dead-set on celebrating Halloween this year, with more than 80% of Americans saying that trick-or-treating is at the top of their lists. Thankfully, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), trick-or-treating brings a lesser Covid-19 risk than events such as house parties and school dances.

But heading outside won’t eliminate all of the risks you must consider.

“In an area where there’s still ongoing community spread [and things] haven’t gotten to the point where things are opening up again, I don’t think trick-or-treating is a great idea,” explains Sandra Kesh, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and the deputy medical director at New York’s Westmed Medical Group. “In areas where the community prevalence is lower, I think it’s okay to plan to trick-or-treat, but it’s going to be a different experience than it was last year,” she told the New York Times.

CDC officials say risk can be lowered in a multitude of ways, mainly by keeping activities to your own home or backyard, or in a controlled walk around the neighborhood. Carving pumpkins, decorating your home inside and on the front porch as well as in the backyard, virtual Halloween costume contests, or movie nights at home, are all considered low-risk activities.

Communities across the country have been struggling with their own guidelines for Halloween. 

In Los Angeles, the county health department initially banned trick or treating, but then said it wasn’t recommended. The department did cancel all Halloween carnivals and haunted houses in the county. 

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she hasn’t decided whether to ban certain Halloween events. “It’s not safe for the children; it’s not safe for the adults,” she said at a news conference. 

New York’s Greenwich Village Halloween Parade was canceled. It usually has about 50,000 marchers and an even bigger crowd.

This Halloween season is causing shifts not only for families and children, but also for businesses that sell all those costumes and candy. Sellers have been optimistic about the upcoming season. The National Retail Federation projects $8 billion in Halloween spending, down from about $8.8 billion last year because of the expected dip in participation in holiday activities.

So how can you stay safe and still have a fun Halloween?

Everything starts with the mask. During Halloween, many costumes already feature masks but it’s important to note that not all masks are equal. “A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask,” the CDC says. “A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps.”

This year you can wear a disposable or reusable cloth mask under a traditional Halloween costume mask, or you could pick from one of the many suitable costume masks that costume and party stores are selling already. These masks will help to keep you safe without spoiling your costume — and they may even be part of it or inspire this year’s theme.

There’s even a the light-up mask, which uses LED lights to create an eye-catching neon effect. This version can change color, allowing you to pick from seven different hues, and it can be recharged using a USB cable.

Go for a ride through a drive-thru haunted house.

While you might think riding, rather than walking, through a haunted house could inhibit your ability to be fully immersed in the spooky surroundings, we will gladly accept any layer of protection from jump scares. 

“Only a thin sheet of glass separates you from terror,” reads the website for BMC Productions’ Terror in the Timbers drive-through haunted house in Chicago. “Guests can expect the unexpected. They’ll experience the same type of scare they’d get with any other big time haunted house – but within the confines and safety of their vehicle,” explained organizer and spokesperson Dan Barrie said, according to NBC Chicago. “The torch lit road will guide guests in their vehicles through a series of vignettes while actors interact during each scene.”

There’s also lots of pop-up drive-in horror-themed movie theatres.

Credit: Kent Nishimura / Getty Images

Sure, you could just curl up at home to watch horror flicks from the comfort of your couch — but with the resurgence of drive-in movie theaters, why not take advantage of a vintage thrill? 

From Indianapolis’ last-remaining drive-in to the big screen in the San Fernando Valley, check your local listings to see where and when you can catch Hocus Pocus and other Halloween classics.

Even Airbnb is offering socially-distanced Halloween ideas.

If driving through a haunted house isn’t enough of a thrill for you, you’re in luck — you can rent your own through popular property-listing sites like VRBO and Airbnb. With houses available near historically haunted locations or on properties long suspected of paranormal activity, there’s a place for every type of thrill seeker — and enhanced safety protocols ensure there’s room for some good, clean fun.

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Even The Biggest ‘Scream’ Movie Fans Probably Don’t Know These Crazy Facts About The Film Franchise

Entertainment

Even The Biggest ‘Scream’ Movie Fans Probably Don’t Know These Crazy Facts About The Film Franchise

Scream / Dimension Films

This year seems like the year of scary movies. Pretty much all Halloween events and parties have been cancelled thanks to the pandemic so what’s better than staying home and watching a scary movie?

One of our favorites is definitely Scream. Sure, the franchise may have lost its way in the third and fourth installments, but they’ve cemented themselves as not just iconic pieces of Halloween entertainment but also memorable movies in general.

You can’t honestly say Ghostface doesn’t creep you out a little bit! Helmed by horror icon Wes Craven, the Scream series launched in 1996 and saw four films — and will have a fifth in 2022. The movies, starring Neve Campbell, are exactly what we reach for every spooky season, but we bet you didn’t know some of these fun facts about the franchise.

The movie was originally called Scary Movie.

Before being called Scream, the project was called Scary Movie, not to be confused with the parody movie that came out later. The movie’s new name was inspired by Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson’s song “Scream,” released the year prior.

The use of caller ID systems more than tripled after the release of the film.

Drew Barrymore says that caller ID use in the U.S. tripled after “Scream” was released in 1996 — and she would know, because her character might’ve survived past 10 minutes if she had it.

Speaking of phone calls: Drew Barrymore kept calling the real 911 while filming the movie.

Credit: Scream / Dimension Films

While filming the opening scene of the first movie, Drew Barrymore, who plays Casey, kept accidentally dialing the real 911 because someone on the props team actually forgot to unplug the phone before filming. Who would of thought they’d actually be using real phones to begin with?

The naive yet beloved Dewey character was actually supposed to die in the first film.

In a tweet, Arquette says that he has behind the scenes footage of the final scene in the movie and that he was actually supposed to be killed in the original script. But we all know that isn’t what happened and we’ve come to love him appearing in each of the films.

As a result, Arquette has now reprised his role of Dewey Riley across four Scream films and will do so again in the fifth that’s filming now. What’s worse, he says people to this day still refer to him as “Doofy,” or his character from the Scream parodies Scary Movie.

Many other actresses were considered for the lead role of Sidney.

Although we’ve all come to love Neve Campbell in the Scream series – in fact, it wouldn’t be the same without her – she wasn’t the only actress up for the role. There were several big-name actors being considered, including everyone from Melissa Joan Hart and Brittany Murphy to Tori Spelling and Drew Barrymore. The latter actually landed the role but due to scheduling conflicts decided to pull out and was offered the smaller role of Casey.

Most of the actors in the film were told to wear black boots as part of their character’s costume.

Credit: Scream 3 / Dimension Films

David Arquette said in a tweet that director Craven paid such close attention to details that he asks many of the people in the cast to wear black boots to lend to the suspicion that any character could be the killer.

In Scream 2, Jada Pinkett Smith is killed in a very gruesome way and it was all her idea.

Credit: Scream 2 / Dimension FIlms

Jada Pinkett Smith met her untimely end early on in Scream 2 — and she asked for it. “I remember saying to the director at the time, ‘I want to die the most horrific death that has ever happened in a horror film,'” she told People. Director Wes Craven delivered, and Pinkett Smith was grandly offed.

If you’re a huge scream fan then you’re probably counting down the days until Scream 5. Here’s what we know so far:

Sadly, Scream 5 will be the first in the series not directed by Wes Craven, the mastermind behind A Nightmare on Elm Street and others, as he passed away in 2015 due to brain cancer. However, there is reason to celebrate his successors, Matthew Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (collectively referred to as Radio Silence). The filmmakers earned attention from genre fans for their segments in anthologies V/H/Sand Southbound, but more recently turned a lot of heads directing their sophomore feature-length effort, 2019’s horror-comedy hit Ready or Not.

However, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, and Courtney Cox are all set to return to Woodsboro in their original roles.

Filming has already started but it looks like we’ll have to wait until January 2022 to be able to actually see the movie.

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A 14-Year-Old Girl Won A $25K Prize After Making A Discovery That Might Lead To A Covid-19 Cure

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A 14-Year-Old Girl Won A $25K Prize After Making A Discovery That Might Lead To A Covid-19 Cure

JOSEPH PREZIOSO / Getty

Since the report of its first case from China to the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronavirus has claimed more than 1.1 million lives across the globe. In the United States alone, there have been more than 219,000 deaths according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. So of course, scientists and doctors across the globe are on the hunt for a coronavirus treatment. Amongst them includes 14-year-old Anika Chebrolu.

The student from Frisco, Texas recently won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge for a discovery that could prove helpful in giving potential therapy to Covid-19.

Chebrolu won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge for a design that utilizes in-silico methodology “to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

“The last two days, I saw that there is a lot of media hype about my project since it involves the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon,” Chebrolu told CNN in an interveiw.

The Indian American teen submitted her project when she was in 8th grade, initially not intending at all for it to be centered on finding a cure for Covid-19. According to CNN, her initial goal had been to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that would attach to a protein of the influenza virus.

“After spending so much time researching about pandemics, viruses and drug discovery, it was crazy to think that I was actually living through something like this,” Anika explained.”Because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

Speaking to CNN, Chebrolu explained that she had been driven to find cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and discovering that nearly 2 million people die from the flu despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs.

“Anika has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for Covid-19,” Cindy Moss, a physician and judge for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, told CNN. “Her work was comprehensive and examined numerous databases. She also developed an understanding of the innovation process and is a masterful communicator. Her willingness to use her time and talent to help make the world a better place gives us all hope.”

In addition to winning the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, Chebrolu won a $25K prize.

According to CNN, she enjoys dancing Bharatanatyam, which is an ancient Indian dance, and says her efforts have just begun.

“My effort to find a lead compound to bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus this summer may appear to be a drop in the ocean, but still adds to all these efforts,” she told CNN. “How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts.”

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