Story at a glance
- As Thanksgiving looms, a new survey revealed that a majority of families will practice public health protocols during Thanksgiving.
- Anthony Fauci supports robust preventative measures.
One in 3 U.S. parents feel that gathering with family during the coronavirus pandemic is worth the risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19, a new survey finds.
Commissioned by the Mott Children’s Hospital of the University of Michigan, the survey polled a national sample of families with children between the ages of 0 and 12.
In a typical year, three-quarters of parents say their children usually see their extended family on Thanksgiving, with most of these gatherings including grandparents and older adults and involving traveling out of state. But 2020 is not a usual year.
The survey found that of the families that usually gather with a large group, 61 percent plan to have an in-person Thanksgiving dinner this year with extended family and 18 percent plan to involve people traveling out of state.
Just more than half of respondents said it is important for their children to see and visit their extended family, but just 35 percent said that the benefits of spending time in close quarters with family during Thanksgiving would be worth the risk of spreading or catching COVID-19.
Public health officials have sounded off concerns over Thanksgiving travel and gatherings, including Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases. Speaking to PBS on Monday, Fauci explained that he is concerned about the travel and interaction brought on by the holiday.
“When you leave a location, have to go to an airport or wherever it is, a train station, et cetera, the possibility of exposing yourself, and then going home to your home community for a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving holiday, might actually, unfortunately, be a source of an even amplification of the surge,” Fauci said.
The U.S. is still battling its most severe outbreak of COVID-19, with national data revealing a 49 percent increase in new cases over the past two weeks.
Deaths and hospitalizations related to COVID-19 infections are also rising.
Fauci suggests that people do a “risk/benefit assessment” of how to handle holiday gatherings amid the pandemic.
“If you have a person who's elderly or who has an underlying condition that makes them more susceptible to the serious consequences of infection, do you really want to have that gathering, or should you say, I know it hurts not to do it, because this is such a beautiful, traditional season, but hang in there with us, because there will be future times when you can do it?” he explains.
The Mott survey pointed out that many families intend to take precautions to keep Thanksgiving relatively safe. Roughly 88 percent said those with COVID-19 symptoms would be excluded from Thanksgiving, and 68 percent said they will ask guests to social distance during the gathering.
Seventy-six percent said they intend to limit contact between children — who can easily transmit the virus — and at-risk relatives, who may be more likely to have a severe infection. Family members who do not adopt the public health protocols like social distancing and wearing a mask will also not be permitted to join for 64 percent of respondents.