Families unwilling to give up gatherings despite risks Inquirer Technology

Thanksgiving: Many families unwilling to give up gatherings despite COVID-19 risks — poll

/ 04:21 PM November 24, 2020

20201124 Gathering COVID-19 risk

Many families in the Unites States are unwilling to skip Thanksgiving gatherings, even if that means spreading COVID-19. Image: IStock/AlexRaths via AFP Relaxnews.

Despite repeated calls from public health officials to limit gatherings in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, many Americans are still planning family get-togethers to celebrate Thanksgiving. According to a national poll, some parents may prioritize continuing Thanksgiving Day traditions with their children over reducing transmission risks, even if most Americans plan to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

With the rules governing the holiday season’s end-of-year celebrations yet to be decided in many countries, all eyes are on this week’s Thanksgiving Day festivities in America. Should extended families get together after having spent months apart, despite running the risk of spreading the virus? Or should they keep the traditions of this fourth Thursday in November to small family circles? Many American parents seem to have made up their minds.


The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan surveyed a sample of parents with at least one child age 12 or under about their plans for Thanksgiving gatherings with extended family.


The poll has shown that for 1 in 3 respondents, the benefits of gathering with family for this seasonal celebration are worth the risk of spreading or getting COVID-19. Moreover, 61% of parents whose children usually see extended family on Thanksgiving Day do not intend to give up on their in-person family get-togethers this year.

Over half of parents felt that it is very important for their child to see extended family and share in family holiday traditions — perhaps especially since around half of the parents polled said that COVID-19 had substantially decreased the amount of time their children spend with extended family members.

A carefully crafted Thanksgiving seating plan?

While many are not willing to give up spending Thanksgiving with family, the American parents polled were nonetheless ready to take precautions to stop the spread of the virus among guests. The usually simple seating plan could therefore prove particularly complicated for Thanksgiving hosts this year.

Three quarters of parents (76%) said they planned to limit contact between children and at-risk guests like grandparents or people with health conditions, and more than two thirds (68%) said they would ask guests to social distance. However, that can be difficult to maintain with young children, especially if they have not seen grandparents for a long time

“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,” warned Sarah Clark, Mott poll co-director.


Another option is to exclude family members who have not been respecting COVID-19 precautions since the onset of the pandemic. The vast majority of parents polled (88%) said they would ask family members not to attend a Thanksgiving gathering if they have any COVID-19 symptoms or exposure, while 64% would not invite certain family members who have not been practicing COVID-19 precautions like mask-wearing. Still, it will take a lot of patience and organization to get a clear picture of everyone’s situation in a country where regulations can vary from state to state.

Some common-sense advice

Clark above all recommended favoring virtual gatherings this year, especially for relatives living out of state or for the most vulnerable family members. That could, for example, involve making the traditional pumpkin pie with grandparents over a video call or holding a group call with family members to share stories before Thanksgiving dinner.

Parents who choose not to give up on family gatherings are encouraged to talk to their children about the day’s organization, reminding them about social distancing and keeping a mask on as much as possible. The scientists also called on parents to get kids outdoors as much as possible and to limit singing Thanksgiving songs, which could spread the virus.

October’s Thanksgiving celebrations in Canada have made the news in recent weeks after an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases was observed in the country two weeks after the holiday. This example does not bode well for anyone hoping for a relaxation in the rules concerning family gatherings during the upcoming holiday season. CC


Parties, gatherings among top sources of new COVID infection 

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TOPICS: COVID-19 pandemic, National Polls, Thanksgiving Day, transmission
TAGS: COVID-19 pandemic, National Polls, Thanksgiving Day, transmission

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