Nearly 40% of Americans planned in-person Thanksgiving events with at least 10 people, flouting public health recommendations to keep celebrations virtual amid the pandemic, survey says

  • A national survey conducted by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that nearly 2 in 5 Americans plan to host in-person Thanksgiving celebrations with more than 10 people.
  • A third of respondents also said they will not ask guests to wear a mask, though a majority would put health safety precautions in place.
  • The findings come at odds with advice from public health experts, who are recommending Americans avoid small indoor gatherings, which are driving new COVID-19 cases in the US.
  • Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, expressed concern on the impact these in-person gatherings could have on the rise in US infections.
  • "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?'" Gonsenhauser said in a statement.
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Nearly 40% of Americans planned in-person Thanksgiving celebrations with more than 10 people, a national survey conducted by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found.

The survey, which took responses from more than 2,000 people in early November, also revealed that a third will not ask guests to wear a mask, though the majority of respondents said they would put precautions in place at gatherings, such as social distancing.

The findings come at odds with advice from public health experts, who are recommending Americans avoid small indoor gatherings, which are driving new COVID-19 cases in the US.

Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, expressed concern on the impact these in-person gatherings could have on the rise in US infections.

"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?'" Gonsenhauser said in a statement.

"When you're gathered together around the table, engaged in conversation, sitting less than 6 feet apart with your masks down, even in a small group, that's when the spread of this virus can really happen," he continued.

Top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci echoed the same concern in an October livestream with JAMA editor in chief Howard Bauchner, describing what people might expect as a result of large indoor Thanksgiving celebrations without proper health safety precautions put in place.

"You get one person who's asymptomatic and infected, and then all of a sudden four or five people in that gathering are infected," Fauci told Bauchner. "That's the exact scenario that you're going to see in Thanksgiving."

Gonsenhauser said the safest solution to ensure stemming the spread of the coronavirus among family members is to host virtual celebrations and cancel in-person plans. But if Thanksgiving celebrations will proceed in person, he emphasized the importance of social distancing in seating arrangements and encouraged people who are traveling to be mindful of COVID-19 restrictions.

"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 in the statement.

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