Nearly 40 percent of Americans are planning to eschew COVID-19 safety protocols and host large Thanksgiving celebrations, despite the new surge in cases, according to a new national survey.
Despite the pandemic, 38 percent of respondents surveyed by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said that they are planning a holiday gathering with more than 10 people, which is against the guidance of most health officials.
The survey also found that 27 percent do not plan to socially distance, and a third said they are unlikely to ask guests to wear masks. Despite the severity of the virus, 20 percent also said that they wouldn’t turn away a guest who shows signs of being infected with COVID-19.
“We’re going to look back at what happened during this holiday season and ask ourselves, ‘Were we part of the solution or were we part of the problem?’” Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, the chief quality, and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said.
“When you’re gathered together around the table, engaged in conversation, sitting less than six feet apart with your masks down, even in a small group, that’s when the spread of this virus can really happen.”
According to Gonsenhauser, it could also be risky to invite friends or family from outside the community or household, as they could bring the virus with them.
“The minute we move to expand those circles, invite people in either from other cities, other communities, family from far away, even if they’re nearby, but we haven’t seen them in a while, we’re extending that list of contacts,” he added. “There are more people now that we are either directly or indirectly in contact with, and that increases our risk of spreading COVID within that circle.”
Gonsenhauser said that he is advising hosts to cancel in-person gatherings, and to instead revert back to the peak of the pandemic and do things virtually to help avoid spreading the virus, which has been rapidly spreading since the weather began cooling down.
“If you have somebody in your household who’s high risk and you’re in a low incidence area, you’re going to want to think twice about having a celebration where people are coming from an area where there’s a lot of virus in the community,” he said.
While celebrations will look different this year, Gonsenhauser says it can also “be an opportunity to make treasured memories with loved ones and experiment with new traditions. Try a virtual dinner or gift exchange or drop off surprise treats on friends’ and family members’ doorsteps.”
The complete survey from The Ohio State University Medical Center can be found here.
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