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Poll: 1 in 3 parents say Thanksgiving gatherings worth COVID-19 risk

A national survey suggests some parents prioritize Thanksgiving traditions with family over reducing coronavirus risks.

WASHINGTON — One in three parents say the benefits of getting together with family for the holidays outweigh the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19, according to a new national poll from the University of Michigan.

The survey asked a national sample of parents with kids younger than 13 about their Thanksgiving plans this year.  

Among the parents whose children usually see extended family on Thanksgiving, only 61% said they planned to gather in-person this year and only 18% were going to include out-of-state guests. 

While 78% of the respondents said it's very important to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at their family gatherings, 35% felt the benefits of that time together outweighed the risks associated with coronavirus.

It's important to note that the survey from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital was administered in August 2020, well before the recent surge of coronavirus cases across the country.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged everyone not to travel for Thanksgiving and to only celebrate in-person with people they live with. 

But it's clear many people are still going ahead with their original Thanksgiving plans. More than 3 million people were screened at U.S. airports on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, according to the Transportation Security Administration. 

The survey also found that one in two parents say the COVID-19 pandemic has substantially decreased the amount of time their children have been spending with extended family. 

“Our report suggests that while many children have spent less time with relatives during the pandemic, some parents may have a hard time foregoing holiday gatherings in order to reduce COVID-19 risks,” Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark explained.  

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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