- In an Insider poll of 1,110 American adults, 57% said they would mix households for Thanksgiving dinner, despite warnings from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention not to invite people over.
- Of those who said they would mix households, about 58% said they plan to eat indoors as usual, and fewer than half are planning to wear masks.
- An infectious-disease physician told Insider that, generally, “the most important” tips “would be to wear a mask at all times except when you’re drinking or eating and avoid a lot of people in a closed space” indoors.
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Throughout 2020, Americans have been asked to alter their Easter and Passover celebrations, scrap July 4 travel plans, and tamp down their Memorial Day barbecues to help protect themselves and others from the novel coronavirus.
But most can’t swallow the recommendations from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to spend Thanksgiving â€” a holiday that celebrates loved ones, friends, and strangers coming together to share food and gratitude â€” with only members of the same household.
According to a nationally representative Insider poll of 1,110 American adults conducted on SurveyMonkey Audience from November 20 to 21, only 43% of Thanksgiving attendees plan to heed that recommendation, while 57% do not.
The poll indicated that 24% of all celebrations would involve two households, 15% would mix three, and 19% would host four or more. One in 10 would combine five or more households.
What’s more, our polling suggests few are making the changes that infectious-disease experts would most highly recommend: improving ventilation and wearing masks. Of the respondents who said they plan to mix households, about 58% plan to eat inside as usual. Additionally, 50% plan to not wear masks, 40% said they would wear masks, and 10% said they weren’t sure about their mask-wearing expectations.
Why masks and open windows are so important
Mixing households, even with precautions, is risky.
More than the number of people, the number of households in any one place is what contributes to COVID-19 spread, Dr. Antonio Crespo, the medical director for Orlando Health Infectious Disease, told Insider.
“The people that are around you, you trust them and see that everybody has been taking precautions,” he said. That’s “a safer group than” those in which you don’t know exactly where everybody has been or who and how many people they have come into contact with.
If you do invite friends or relatives over, masks are critical. They can help keep people indoors safe from the virus, like in the case of a salon in which the stylists had COVID-19 but didn’t infect any of their 140 clients.
Plus, one recent model estimated that if all Americans wore masks, 63,000 more US deaths could be prevented by March. ACDC report published this month found that COVID-19 cases decreased in Kansas counties that adopted a mask mandate but increased in counties that opted out.
Proper ventilation, including through open windows, can also help reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission indoors, since the virus spreads mostly via respiratory droplets â€” though it may also travel in smaller particles that can linger indoors. Enclosed settings, such as an indoor bar with no mechanical ventilation and typically closed entrances, have fuelled superspreader events.
Crespo said that, generally, “the most important” tips “would be to wear a mask at all times except when you’re drinking or eating and avoid a lot of people in a closed space” indoors.
“I know we want to be together, we want to hug each other, kiss each other, but this year we may have to make some changes to these practices so we hope that maybe by next year we could have a more traditional reunion,” he added. “This year we have to sacrifice a little bit.”
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