‘Who thought this was a good idea?’ U.S. health official gives COVID-19 update in clown costume

TORONTO — When considering what Halloween costume to wear while giving an update on COVID-19 cases and deaths, the negative reaction to one video suggests the best option is perhaps none at all.

Public health officials in Oregon were swiftly panned online this week after wearing clown makeup and an animal onesie in a video about celebrating Halloween safely.

While most of the 24-minute video covers trick-or-treating tips like candy chutes, costume parades and “trunk or treating,” the clip begins with an update on new COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state of 4.2 million. 

“Sadly we are also reporting three deaths today,” said general pediatrician Claire Poché in multi-coloured hair, clown makeup, and bright yellow pants. 

“Oregon. Literally run by clowns,” wrote one Twitter user who shared the video online. “I’m sorry but who at the Oregon Health Authority thought this was a good idea?” wrote another user.

In the rest of the video, Poche and her colleague Shimi Sharief address various health concerns surrounding Halloween and the spread of COVID-19, including whether stores should leave out candy bowls and whether it’s safe to wear a surgical mask under a Halloween mask. The health officials stressed that the celebration will be and should be different this year, but there are safe ways to proceed.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping how Oregonians celebrate holidays, and that includes Halloween,” said Sharief. “But it doesn’t mean Halloween can’t still be spooky and fun this year.” 

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