Most In MD Plan Thanksgiving Within Their Household: Patch Survey

Elizabeth Janney
·5 min read

MARYLAND — With coronavirus cases increasing around the country and in Maryland, public health officials are urging residents to stay home or take precautions for Thanksgiving.

In the week before the holiday, we asked Maryland Patch readers about their plans. More than 1,600 responses came in between Wednesday and Friday afternoon. The survey is a non-scientific questionnaire intended to show reader sentiment.

Nearly 60 percent of those who responded to the survey said they are only celebrating Thanksgiving with their household. Another 24.5 percent said they planned to celebrate with family or friends who are outside their households, and 6.8 percent said they were going to gather virtually.

The remainder said their Thanksgiving plans fell under "other," with responses such "just me and the dog," a combination of virtual and in-person celebrations, "nobody's business," and "invited one friend in our 'bubble.'"

As coronavirus cases have seen an uptick around the country, Maryland health officials issued a travel advisory urging people not to travel out of state to areas with average weekly positivity rates over 10 percent or case rates greater 20 per 100,000 residents.

“Holidays are a time to get together with loved ones, but this year festivities bring a real danger of community spread of COVID-19,” said Maryland's Acting Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Jinlene Chan in a statement Thursday, Nov. 19. “We must be extra cautious and look out for each other, which may mean celebrating remotely or gathering with just a few friends and family members from our immediate households. Avoid large gatherings and unnecessary travel in the coming months. This pandemic is far from over.”

Of the Maryland Patch readers surveyed, 83 percent said they do not plan to travel, while 10.1 percent will travel locally, 3.4 percent will travel out of state and 2.9 percent will travel to another part of Maryland. Some families said they would be getting tested and quarantining to visit with relatives.

When we asked readers whether they were going to get tested for the virus before Thanksgiving, the majority said no, with over 84 percent saying they were not getting tested. Of those surveyed, 5.4 percent said they planned to get tested prior to Thanksgiving, and 6.5 percent responded "maybe." Of the nearly 4 percent who answered "other," some said they had just been tested or that they currently had coronavirus.

When asked whether they were concerned about Thanksgiving contributing to a coronavirus spike in the United States and Maryland, 84.9 percent said yes, 10.4 percent said no, and 4.7 percent said they were unsure.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn't recommending Thanksgiving celebrations with other households, it offers suggestions like hosting outdoor gatherings or opening windows when hosting guests.

"We celebrated Thanksgiving already, this past Saturday outside on the deck with a group of 8 people, 4 of whom do not live in the home," said one person who responded to the Maryland Patch survey. "All done with Thanksgiving. Next is trying to figure out Xmas."

Of those surveyed, 36.4 percent said they were not having a buffet this year and 25 percent said they would keep the windows open, if weather allows. More than 17 percent said they would have Thanksgiving outdoors, weather permitting, and about 17 percent also said they were going to use single-serve utensils.

In Maryland, there is a statewide face mask mandate applicable to indoor public spaces, but it does not apply inside personal residences. However, the CDC recommends those who do not live in the same household wear a mask if they are gathering together.

When we asked Maryland Patch readers, about 77 percent said they believe individuals should wear face masks when celebrating Thanksgiving with people outside their households, while nearly 11 percent said no masks should be worn and almost 9 percent said they were unsure. Others responded with a variety of answers, mainly "it depends," with factors such as whether people were in the same "COVID safe circle" or had gotten tested.

Lastly, we asked if readers had additional comments about their celebrations this year. Below are a few, and we may have additional stories with some of the others in the days to come:

  • "This is the first time in our 70 plus years we will be celebrating without our family together. But each of my six sisters and brothers have made the same decision to remain in our own homes. We will be sharing pictures of our meals and texting each other. We know we love each other."

  • "We will have thanksgiving in my home and have as many people as we want. Hogan and Pittman will not stop us."

  • "I'm sad to not host Thanksgiving to a larger crowd, but I don't want to contribute to the spread."

  • "Usually a family group of about 28 seated. Just my husband and I at home alone this year. We both have compromised immune systems and would like to celebrate many Thanksgivings to come."

  • "For 2020 everyone should remember Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, it's not about how many family members and friends are coming to your house."

  • "Better to miss out on one Thanksgiving now, than miss out on all of them later."

This article originally appeared on the Bel Air Patch