Public health officials have asked Americans to stay home this year for Thanksgiving. And despite having busy airports over the past weekend, most people plan to follow their advice, according to a huge survey that asks Americans about their vacation plans.
The map shows the geographical differences between these plans, and there are also partisan breaks. But even among Republicans, two-thirds give up a big traditional Thanksgiving.
Our data come from interviews conducted by Dynata, a global data and survey company, at the request of The New York Times. The company asked questions about Thanksgiving plans, receiving more than 150,000 survey responses by November 13-23, enough data to provide more detailed estimates at the state level.
Nationwide, the survey found that only about 27 percent of Americans plan to have dinner with people outside their household. That number is roughly in line with the results of recent smaller surveys, including researchers from YouGov, the Covid States Project, and Ohio State University, all of which say less than a third of Americans plan to celebrate in groups.
This is also consistent with the results of a separate informal survey of Times epidemiologists. Of the 635 public health experts, only about 21 percent planned to celebrate Thanksgiving with people outside their household. The two surveys – among ordinary Americans and epidemiologists – asked the same questions.
An extensive survey of Americans and epidemiologists gave similar answers: Most said they would not celebrate Thanksgiving with people outside their household.
Proportion of Thanksgiving dinner users with people outside their household
But as the map illustrates, Thanksgiving plans show significant regional differences, with people in some parts of the country much more likely to gather with others. In some parts of Vermont, for example, only about 14 percent of households will celebrate with people outside their household. In some parts of Missouri, more than half of residents plan.
Public health officials are worried about Thanksgiving holidays as coronavir virus cases have reached record highs in many parts of the country. Traditional festive holidays, along with long meals indoors, and usually a few trips, can contribute to further cases of the disease, which is spread primarily through drops and aerosols that can stay in non-ventilated indoor rooms. Last week, several federal and state health officials urged Americans to skip such plans and stay home for the holiday.
The identification of the party seems to explain the variety of plans for Thanksgiving.
Proportion of Thanksgiving dinner users with people outside their household, by political party
Similar to a similar survey of wearing summer masks, partisans seem to explain regional differences in Thanksgiving plans. Nevertheless, survey respondents who called themselves members of the Libertarian, Green, or Republican Party were more likely to plan a multi-household Thanksgiving than Democrats or non-members of a political party.
The states in which President Trump won the election this month are generally more likely to have a planned Thanksgiving thanking more households than the states that Joe Biden won.
On average, Americans living in the states that President Trump won in 2020 were more likely to say they plan to have Thanksgiving with people outside their household.
Proportion of those who eat Thanksgiving dinner with people outside their household by state
Washington Governor Jay Inslee, the state with the lowest rate of Thanksgiving in mixed households in the survey, said he and other officials across the pandemic have worked hard to get scientists, not politicians, to communicate public health messages. But he and his wife, Trudi Inslee, had a “bonfire conversation” about Thanksgiving last week, highlighting the family traditions they’re leaving behind this year. In Washington, the number of cases of coronavirus is increasing and the state has introduced new restrictions on trade, but there the number of cases remains lower than in many other parts of the country. Mr Inslee said he was pleased to see that people in his state were avoiding great Thanksgiving.
“Now we can stand there being the most grateful state in the nation.” – He told. “We are grateful to our loved ones for wanting to stay alive for the next Thanksgiving.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, party divisions in public health counseling were minimal, said Samara Klar, an associate professor of political science at the University of Arizona. But he noted that the different messages from Republican and Democratic leaders were reflected in support for public health measures and the wearing of the masks you announced. Thanksgiving plans seem to fit this broader pattern.
“There’s nothing in Republicans that worries them less or the Democrats that makes them more panicked,” he said. “But when you have an issue that people don’t know much about, people are rationally looking for their leaders, and that’s why we see a shortage.”
His research has shown that partisan sharing of coronavirus precautions tends to narrow in the areas most affected by the virus.
There is some evidence that recent severe warnings from public health officials are affecting Americans ’vacation plans. Our survey began collecting responses on November 13th. After Nov. 19, when Center for Disease Prevention and Control officials asked people to stay home for the holiday, and when the White House Coronavir Task Force recommended avoiding indoor gatherings, the number of Americans planning a celebration with people outside their household dropped to about 25. to about 28 percent, although this figure has recovered somewhat.
Much of this shift took place among Republicans, who were perhaps more attuned to the Democrats than changing the White House council. Democrats tend to say they are more cautious about the risks of the coronavirus throughout a pandemic.
The CDC’s November 19 announcement, calling on Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving, could have had little effect.
Proportion of those who say they eat Thanksgiving dinner with people outside their household, by survey response date
There is reason to suspect that more Americans are mingling at Thanksgiving than these studies suggest. In general, people who conduct surveys are often reluctant to admit behavior that they deem undesirable. And the epidemic has made the concept of “household” more flexible for many families who have allowed their neighbors, friends, or relatives into their “bubbles” to expand their social interactions while limiting their Covid risk. Airports have been busier this week than ever since the pandemic became a national emergency, although Sunday’s summit was still only half the normal number for the holiday.
According to a survey by Ohio State University, only 21 percent of adults said they celebrate with people outside their household. However, another issue found that about 38 percent of people planned to celebrate in groups of more than 10. The discrepancy is too large to be explained by the small number of large households in the country.
Iahn Gonsenhauser, one of the co-authors of the survey, said she was concerned that answers to the household question might be colored by some combination of confusion and a flexible definition of households. But he still said it was remarkable that the majority of those surveyed seemed to take public health messages to heart.
“It’s so easy to enroll people who don’t follow the guidelines, or who are now strongly opposed to the guidelines or recommendations,” said Dr. Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. “It’s a much louder message right now than the message from people who just say it’s not a good idea right now, and I’m not holding a personal Thanksgiving.”