The air is getting cooler, the leaves are falling and the holidays are fastly approaching. This time of year is flush with traditions and family enjoyment. Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer, Douglas County Public Health Officer, offers some ideas on how families can still have a great time while being safe in the time of COVID-19.

Many people are wondering if it’s safe to go trick-or-treating for Halloween. Dannenhoffer said, “If you go trick-or-treating with a family group, if you wear a mask, if you do it outdoors, and if you maintain 6 feet of distance, then it’s pretty darn safe.”

To minimize the risk while taking kids door-to-door, it is important to socially distance, wear a mask, go with a family group, and to follow normal Halloween safety guidelines.

Socially distancing is key to having a safe Halloween. Dannenhoffer presented a new way of handing out treats he calls the candy chute. This spooktacular device lets you safely transport goodies from your porch to the awaiting bags of trick-or-treaters. All you need is a piece of PVC pipe that’s a little more than five feet long, and something to cut it with to make a small curved opening at both ends. You can also use cardboard, such as a wrapping paper roll. When Trick-or-Treaters come to the door, amaze them with your supernatural invention while staying a safe distance away.

Dannenhoffer said, “I think it’s actually more fun than handing it out because I could imagine the kids are going to be trying to catch it at the bottom. I think it’s going to be great.”

Another essential piece of advice is wearing a mask. Dannenhoffer said, “You should be wearing a cloth mask rather than just a costume mask.” Often Halloween masks have holes, so they can’t provide complete protection. Whether you’re handing out candy or collecting it, wearing a cloth mask is an essential part of the costume.

Going with a family group can decrease the spread potential during Halloween. Trick-or-treating with people that you have already been exposed to is the way to go.

“We’d like people to maintain distance and be in small groups, the best groups are family members or people that you’ve already otherwise been exposed to,” Dannenhoffer said.

Following usual Halloween safety precautions is another good thing to do. Dannenhoffer said, “We want people to have the regular safety things that you do for Halloween. If you’re going to be going out after dark to wear reflective clothing, walk on the sidewalks, and be careful of strangers.”

If trick-or-treating seems too risky, there are some other creative things that Roseburg residents can do this Halloween.

The Douglas County Fairgrounds will be home to a drive-thru haunted house from 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 30 and 31.

Dannenhoffer said, “They have a drive-thru underneath the grandstands at the fairgrounds, so we’re gonna open that up so it will be open air. Then we’re gonna have little hayrides where individual families can ride through.”

The theme of the drive-thru haunted house is going to be a hospital asylum. Dannenhoffer said this is because everyone will already be in costume and naturally wearing face masks.

Instead of a line of cars while you wait there will be another fun option. Dannenhoffer said, “We’re gonna be showing a movie on the side of the fairgrounds building so people can watch the movie while they wait.”

With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, Dannenhoffer offered some additional safety tips for these holidays.

One thing that people can do to stay safe is to get a flu shot. There will be a drive-thru clinic for free flu shots on Oct. 16, Oct. 30, and Nov. 11 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. Dannenhoffer said, “There’s no cost for the flu shots and it should be quick.”

Additionally, Dannenhoffer recommends that people limit their travel and the number of people that they have over for the holidays. “What we’ve seen is that when people travel, especially out of the area, we’re getting a lot of disease,” said Dannenhoffer. “So be careful if you’re going out of the area or bringing people into the area.”

People also need to limit the size of gatherings. “This is a time where people might have 20 people at their house and we think this is going to be really problematic for spread,” Dannenhoffer said.

This year, Dannenhoffer suggests having a gathering with your direct family.

Dannenhoffer said, “I really want people to enjoy the holidays. I want them to enjoy family, but I want them to be safe.”

Skylar Knox is a seventh grade student at Fremont Middle School in Roseburg and a frequent contributor to The News-Review. Her work can also be found at

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Skylar Knox is amazing.


Douglas High School received a special exception from the Oregon Department of Education on October 8 to start in-person learning, despite not meeting the state school metric guidance. There were two reasons stated for granting the special exception. First, Douglas Public Health Officer Bob Dannenhoffer was quoted saying untruthfully, “there are no COVID-19 cases in the zip codes served by the school district.”

According to the Oregon Health Authority weekly report (below link), Douglas High School’s zip code 97496 has reported 12 coronavirus cases. 6 of those cases occurred the week before Douglas High School received their exception. Dr. Dannenhoffer was not honest.

The second stated reason for granting the exception to Douglas High School was because the county case rate was below 30 per population of 100,000 residents. Yet, the OHA weekly school metrics report (below link) defines the county metric for school re-openings to be a case rate below 10 for three weeks in a row, NOT 30. In fact, Douglas County’s case rate was 17, 21 and 23 for each of the three weeks prior to when the exception was granted. And Douglas County’s case rate for the past week is now over 30.

Obviously, I wasn’t at the meeting when the exception was granted. But I have to wonder if the exception would have been granted knowing Dr. Dannenhoffer was not telling the truth about the number of coronavirus cases in Douglas School’s zip code, especially now that the case rate is above 30 and the positive test rate for Douglas County is above 5.4%.


Correction: The exception was granted October 3.


5 new coronavirus cases were reported today by the County Commissioners Coronavirus Response Team, bringing the total to 287 cases and 4 deaths for Douglas County.

Douglas County has reported 19 coronavirus cases in the last 3 days. To put it into perspective, Douglas County’s 19 cases in the last three days is more than Douglas County reported in the entire months of March, April, May or June.

Our Douglas County Commissioners have reported a RECORD HIGH 34 coronavirus cases and received 625 test results over the past week. Dividing 34 cases by 625 test results increases Douglas County’s 7-day positive test rate to a RECORD HIGH 5.4% today, which exceeds the county school metric maximum of 5%.

The six counties surrounding Douglas County reported 116 new coronavirus cases today and a RECORD high 616 cases and 2 deaths over the past week.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 398 new coronavirus cases and 2 deaths in Oregon today.

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