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One-third of parents in new poll say holiday gatherings worth COVID-19 risk

A third of parents surveyed say it is important that they see their families in person during the holidays, despite warnings from public health officials.

Dominick Mastrangelo, The Hill, Nov 23, 2020

eir families in person during the Thanksgiving holiday this year, despite warnings from public health officials to forgo festivities due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

About one-third of parents polled indicated the benefits of gathering with family at Thanksgiving are worth the risk of spreading or getting COVID-19, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. 

More than half of respondents said the pandemic has resulted in "a substantial decrease in the time their children spend with extended family members," and 61 percent of parents whose children typically see extended family for the holiday said they plan to gather in-person with such family.

"In this unique situation, children may be better served if parents are thoughtful about how to preserve family traditions without an in-person gathering," poll conductors said. "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." 

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance encouraging all Americans not to gather in person for Thanksgiving festivities this year as many states experience sharp increases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus. 

"Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year," the CDC said. "It’s important to talk with the people you live with and your family and friends about the risks of traveling for Thanksgiving."

The Mott poll indicated most Americans are at least aware of or take seriously the potential risk that gathering in person creates this year, despite some suggesting they are willing to take a chance in order to see loved ones. 

More than three-quarters say it is very important to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at a family gathering, yet 53 percent indicated it is very important that their child sees extended family for the holiday. 

The new poll, conducted in August, is based on responses from 1,443 parents who had at least one child 12 years old or younger. The margin of error for results is between 1 and 3 percentage points.

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