MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With COVID rates dropping, Shelby County health experts are encouraging trick-or-treating this Halloween, and why that’s the spooky news some have been waiting to hear.

While Memphians and Mid-Southerners last year were discouraged to celebrate Halloween last year, Gary Wilkes, president of Wayne’s Candy on Carolina Avenue, says the pandemic won’t scare off business for this year’s fright night.

“Last year was very difficult, but starting this year people have started getting out and buying and it’s been restored. This is going to be a pretty good year,” Wilkes said.

Shelby County health experts say we should now feel comfortable enjoying trick-or-treating.

“We’re about to, I hope, come into a situation which is the best we’ve seen in a long time,” said Dr. Steve Threlkeld, infectio9us disease expert at Baptist Hospital. “Transmission is going down; immunity is going up. Both natural infections, there have been a lot of them, and more and more people have gotten the vaccine.”

He also says most people celebrate Halloween outdoors.
  
“It’s a primarily an outdoor sort of holiday going door to door. So, it sorts of innately, it’s a safer activity.”

Those encouraging words to enjoy the scariest time of the year came when there’s been a decline in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Still, Dr. Jeff Warren, a COVID Task Force member and city councilman, says in Memphis areas, where COVID cases remain high, parents shouldn’t let down their guard.

“In those really hot zip codes, if you’re going to have your kids out trick or treating, have them to put masks on if they get in a crowd of kids and, otherwise, I think it will be safe,” Dr. Warren said. “I would have them wear a face mask under their Halloween mask simply because that’s going to keep them safer. We still have all kids 12 and under who aren’t vaccinated and we’re still an under vaccinated community.”

Back at Wayne’s Candy, Gary Wilkes has some sweet advice for trick or treaters.
 
“I want everybody to be safe. It’s not going to hurt you to wear a mask, distance, but have fun,” he said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical advisor says Americans can look forward to enjoying trick-or-treating this year.