Halloween Costume Masks Aren't Enough To Protect Against Coronavirus, Physician Warns

Halloween masks -- the type worn by children, and in some cases, adults -- are not enough to protect against transmission of the coronavirus, the pathogen responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, a physician told WBRC-TV.

In a few weeks, millions of children across the country will wear costumes and masks to complete their disguises as they go door-to-door for the traditional annual collection of candy. While many parents may think that those masks may prevent children from transmitting or contracting the coronavirus, Dr. Erin DeLaney, a physician with University of Alabama-Birmingham Family Medicine, says they are not enough.

Specifically, those masks generally have holes at the nostrils, eyes and mouth to allow the wearer to see and breathe. As such, they do little to nothing to prevent or slow the spread of respiratory droplets, the primary means of transmission of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2.

Dr. DeLaney also notes that putting on a cloth covering that extends over the nose and mouth on a child's face, and then a traditional Halloween mask on top of it, is likely to restrict a child's ability to breathe.

"We don't want people to double mask, to put a cloth mask on top of a Halloween mask, there is some risk and danger associated with that in terms of little children being able to breathe and be comfortable," she said.

Instead, she suggests that kids incorporate the holiday into their coronavirus mask.

"What we are recommending are masks that may be Halloween themed," she said.

children and adults wearing masks
Getty Images | John Moore

Further, she encouraged parents to be extra cautious about their kids touching things during trick-or-treating.

As The New York Times reported in May, the likelihood that the coronavirus can or will be spread on surfaces is not very high. Since the virus seems to spread person to person, according to the publication, an infected person touching candy wrappers and then handing them out does not necessarily put someone at risk.

Precautions aside, the matter of kids trick-or-treating or otherwise participating in other Halloween activities is being looked at through the lens of the pandemic. As The L.A. Times reported earlier this month, Los Angeles County banned trick-or-treating and suggested safer alternatives instead, such as online pumpkin-carving and costume contests. However, city officials later walked back that decision.

In contrast, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, the governors of New York and New Jersey have both said that they have no intention of banning door-to-door trick-or-treating.