With coronavirus cases continuing to reach daily all-time highs less than two weeks before Thanksgiving, public health experts are concerned that holiday travel and family gatherings could douse more gasoline on an epidemic that already seems to be out of control.
A new poll conducted by Covid Near You and SurveyMonkey shows that 37% of people across the U.S. plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends or family from outside of their household, and another 23% are not sure yet. In addition, 60% of people say they plan to celebrate Thanksgiving indoors—22% are not sure yet, and 13% do not plan to celebrate—including 78% of those who will be spending the holiday with people from outside of their own households.
More than half of Republicans (52%) say they plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends or family who do not live with them, significantly higher than the number of Democrats (29%) or independents (28%) who say the same. In SurveyMonkey’s coronavirus tracking, Republicans have consistently expressed less concern about the coronavirus.
Reports indicate that informal, even small gatherings among family and friends are what’s fueling the recent increase in coronavirus cases nationwide—exactly the type of gatherings that take place every Thanksgiving. With colder weather in the winter and fewer options for outdoor gatherings available in most parts of the country, any socializing with people from outside of one’s household is risky.
One bright note in the new poll is that Thanksgiving travel is expected to be significantly diminished compared with a typical year. Just 5% of people say they will be traveling out of state for Thanksgiving, while 91% say they will not be traveling out of state and 5% aren’t sure yet. Among those who are traveling, 68% plan to drive and 29% plan to fly. Just more than one in 10 travelers (11%) are planning a trip to Florida, twice as many as the next highest destinations of California and Texas (both 5%).
But that small group of travelers could prove to be at high risk of becoming super spreaders of the virus. A large majority of them (84%) plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends or family who do not live with them, and 72% will be doing so indoors.
Methodology: These data come from a SurveyMonkey online poll conducted November 9-13, 2020 among a national sample of 16,033 adults in the U.S. Respondents were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over. Covid Near You is a joint team of epidemiologists from Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School that uses crowdsourced data to help citizens and public health agencies identify current and potential hotspots for COVID-19.
For more detailed results, click through the interactive toplines below.
Read more about our polling methodology here.