More than one-third of parents believe celebrating Thanksgiving in person is worth the risk of potentially infecting loved ones with COVID-19, a new poll found.
The survey, conducted in August, polled US parents of at least one child living in their home and found that 35 percent believe the benefits of breaking bread together over the holiday outweighs the risk of contracting or spreading coronavirus, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health released Sunday.
Sixty-one percent are still planning on an in-person gathering this year, with three-quarters of parents saying their children typically see their extended families, including grandparents, on Turkey Day.
That’s despite new holiday guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week warning Americans to stay home, saying that postponing travel plans is the best way to protect loved ones amid rising infection rates nationwide.
Sarah Clark, co-director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Medicine, said the findings indicate parents “may have a hard time” skipping holidays like Thanksgiving in the face of ongoing COVID-19 risks, CNN reported.
“We all know that large public gatherings carry great risks of spreading COVID-19,” Clark said in a statement. “But small and casual social gatherings where people feel most ‘safe’ are also part of what has been fueling transmission.”
Just 18 percent of parents said their holiday plans this week involve people traveling from out of state, down from 40 percent who say their family usually treks elsewhere for Thanksgiving, the survey found.
To keep children and guests safe, 88 percent of parents said they intended to ask a relative to stay away if they’re showing any COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to the virus, while 64% percent said they plan to not invite those who haven’t taken virus precautions.
Social distancing will also be a key factor for 68 percent of those polled, and more than three-quarters said they’ll try to limit contact between kids and high-risk guests as much as possible, the survey found.
“In thinking about their Thanksgiving plans, parents appear to be balancing risks and benefits of having a traditional celebration,” a statement accompanying the poll read, adding that more than 9 in 10 said those gatherings usually involved grandparents. “ … Yet over half of parents indicated it was very important for their child to be with extended family and share in Thanksgiving traditions.”
Family time has changed under the pandemic — with 51 percent reporting significantly decreased quality time with extended family and nearly a quarter reporting a “slight decrease” in time spent with relatives.
Parents should “think carefully” about inviting those with increased risk or to simply forgo an in-person holiday celebration altogether, poll officials said.
“In this unique situation, children may be better served if parents are thoughtful about how to preserve family traditions without an in-person gathering,” the poll’s findings continued. “Parents may want to talk with children about their favorite Thanksgiving foods, decorations or activities, and then use that input to plan a virtual celebration that includes family members in different locations.”