December 25, 2020 10:00am

Power Poll: Safe Celebrations Planned

Most community leaders say they intend to follow COVID-19 guidelines before and during the winter holiday season.

Photo of Scott Barker
Knoxville, TN Correspondent

Civic and business leaders in Knox County generally plan to incorporate COVID-19 restrictions into their holiday celebrations this year.

In the latest local Power Poll, 60 percent of respondents said they would restrict holiday gatherings to members of their own households, seven in 10 plan to stay home during the season and 88 percent are doing all or part of their shopping online.

Only 6 percent of respondents said they would hold traditional holiday celebrations without following COVID-19 recommendations made by public health officials. Nearly one in four reported they would celebrate with others but follow the recommendations, whether they are inside or outside.

Only two people — 1.3 percent of all respondents — plan to do all their shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. Twice that number are doing no holiday shopping at all. And the few who are traveling for the most part plan to drive, not fly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend postponing travel and staying home as the best means of protection against COVID-19 during the holidays.

Travel isn’t advised for those who meet several conditions, including if you, someone in your household or someone you are visiting is at risk for severe complications from COVID-19; if cases are high or increasing where you live or at your destination; and if you are traveling by bus, train, or airplane, where physical distancing is difficult to maintain.

For those who do travel, the CDC recommends getting a flu shot, checking for travel restrictions at your destination, and other suggestions. At the forefront are the “five core actions” — maintaining 6 feet of distance between you and those who don’t live in your household, wearing a mask, washing hands, sanitizing surfaces and staying home when sick.

Looking ahead to 2021 — and so many people are ready to put 2020 in the books — there is optimism about the recently developed COVID-19 vaccines. On Thursday, Knox County hospitals received their first batches of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which are designated for healthcare workers and first responders. Widespread distribution isn’t expected to ramp up until next spring.

Half the respondents are very confident about the effectiveness, availability and safety of the vaccines, and another 40 percent are somewhat confident. The remainder have no confidence (5.4 percent) or are unsure (4.7 percent) about the vaccines.

The Power Poll is not a scientific poll but a survey of views and attitudes among community leaders. For this survey, 710 people were invited to participate and 149 returned responses — a rate of 20.99 percent. Here are the questions and results.


How are you planning to hold holiday gathering with family and friends?


  • Our household only: 90 (60.4 percent)

  • Outdoors while following COVID-19 guidelines: 11 (7.4 percent)

  • Indoors while following COVID-19 guidelines: 26 (17.4 percent)

  • Traditional gatherings without following COVID-19 guidelines: 9 (6 percent)

  • Unsure: 13 (8.7 percent)


How are you shopping for the holidays?


  • All in person: 2 (1.3 percent)

  • Mostly in person, some online: 12 (8.1 percent)

  • Mostly online, some in person: 100 (67.1 percent)

  • Online only: 31 (20.8 percent)

  • Not shopping: 4 (2.7 percent)


How do you plan to travel over the holidays?


  • By plane: 6 (4 percent)

  • By automobile: 36 (24.2 percent)

  • Other: 1 (.7 percent)

  • Will not travel: 103 (69.1 percent)

  • Unsure: 3 (2 percent)


For the new year, how confident are you in the availability, effectiveness and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines?


  • Very confident: 74 (49.7 percent)

  • Somewhat confident: 60 (40.3 percent)

  • Not confident: 8 (5.4 percent)

  • Unsure: 7 (4.7 percent)

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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