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Thanksgiving plans interrupted by COVID

Richmond, VA  |  November 30, 2020 10:00am  |  By Tom Lappas

The overwhelming majority of respondents to this month’s Richmond Power Poll stayed home for Thanksgiving with immediate family members only – many because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local and national health officials and leaders had warned people about the risks of gathering in groups with people from different households – even family members – because of the risk such gatherings could pose in spreading the virus.

Respondents to this month’s poll seemed to heed those messages.

Almost 88% of respondents indicated that they weren’t traveling or spending the holiday with anyone other than immediate family members; just about 12% said they had plans to travel by car to a small gathering.

Thanksgiving plans this year were the same as during a normal year for about 46% of respondents, but another 46% said they normally travel for the holiday but opted not to do so this year.

More than 40% of respondents cited COVID as the only factor in determining their Thanksgiving plans this year, while another 29% indicated that it was a major factor. Only 8% suggested that it didn’t factor into their decisions at all.

The Richmond Power Poll is not a scientific poll. This month’s poll had a response rate of 14% among 230 members.

In recent weeks, both Henrico and Chesterfield schools have reversed course and opted to remain in virtual learning mode (Henrico) or return to it (Chesterfield) because of rising COVID case rates. Henrico was set to begin returning students to school in person Nov. 30.

Richmond Public Schools already were planning to remain fully virtual for the first half of the year. Among the four major localities in the region, only Hanover County continues to offer in-person learning for those students who chose it.

With the incidence of COVID cases locally expected to rise at elevated rates during the coming weeks, the pandemic is threatening plans for other winter holidays, too.

About 46% of those who responded to this month’s poll said they normally travel for Christmas, Hanukkah or other winter holidays but are unsure about whether they’ll do so this year. About 42% indicated that they normally stay home for those holidays and would do the same this year. Only about 12% said they typically travel and planned to travel this year, too.