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Survey: 1 in 3 parents say benefits of gathering at Thanksgiving is worth the risk of coronavirus

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Posted at 10:17 AM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 11:18:00-05

A new survey of parents nationwide finds nearly a third say the benefits of gathering with extended family for the holidays are worth the risk of spreading or getting the coronavirus, and almost 3-in-5 plan to see extended family in person.

This is according to a poll conducted by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in partnership with the University of Michigan. They heard from almost 1,500 parents with at least one child 12 or younger.

Among parents who usually see extended family, outside their household, on Thanksgiving, 61 percent said they still plan to meet in-person in some way for the holiday this week. However, only 18 percent of those family get togethers are planning to include people from out-of-state.

“For many parents, holidays mean sharing special rituals across different generations and opportunities for children to connect with grandparents, cousins, and other relatives,” Sarah Clark, M.P.H., a co-director at Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, said.

“Our report suggests that while many children have spent less time with relatives during the pandemic, some parents may have a hard time foregoing holiday gatherings in order to reduce COVID-19 risks.”

Of those planning to get together in person, some parents say they are considering changes because of the pandemic. These include asking people with symptoms or recent exposures not to attend, limiting contact between young children and elderly guests, keeping guests socially distant when possible, and wearing masks indoors.

Nearly two-thirds of those planning to get together in-person said they would not invite certain family members who have not been practicing safety precautions like wearing a mask in public.

Clark warns parents that these conversations with family members could get uncomfortable.

“It may be difficult to maintain distance between children and high risk adults throughout a multi-day visit or even during a lengthy dinner,” Clark said in a release about the survey. “Parents should be realistic about how feasible it will be to limit contact and think carefully about whether to gather in person with high-risk family members.”

The findings are being published as coronavirus cases are spiking in America, reaching 12 million positive cases since the pandemic started, an increase of 1 million positive cases in just six days. There are more than 257,000 recorded deaths in this country.

On Friday, a week before Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans not to travel for the holiday; they also recommend limiting small gatherings, wearing masks even indoors, being outside if possible and opening windows when it’s not.

“We all know that large public gatherings carry great risks of spreading COVID-19. But small and casual social gatherings where people feel most ‘safe’ are also part of what has been fueling transmission,” Clark said. “With COVID-19 cases increasing in every state, it is essential that all family members do their part to prevent further spread. That may mean celebrating the holidays a little differently this year.”