COLUMBUS, Ohio — The world is in its second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and although much progress has been made with COVID-19 vaccines becoming more widely available, many U.S. families still plan to cautiously celebrate the holidays, according to a survey from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
The online survey by the Harris Poll on behalf of the Wexner Medical Center questioned 2,042 adults 18 and older between Oct. 29 and Nov. 1. Nearly half plan to require friends and family to wear masks during gatherings, which is down 67% compared to OSU's poll last year. Around three-fourths said they plan to celebrate with only members of their household.
Around 46% of respondents said they will require unvaccinated guests to get a negative COVID-19 test before gathering, and half said they will inquire about their guests' vaccination status.
“If everyone in attendance is vaccinated and are without major health risks, you can have a safe, small gathering without a lot of additional precautions,” said Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and assistant professor of internal medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “Unvaccinated individuals really pose the greatest threat, and that’s when it becomes necessary to put some rules and precautions in place, even though those conversations can be a little bit awkward.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated guidance for holiday gatherings in October. Experts recommend unvaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor settings. The CDC also urges vaccinated individuals to wear masks if they are in communities with high transmission of the virus.
It also recommends avoiding crowded, unventilated areas and to stay home if you have symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.
Ohio State Wexner Medical Center officials also recommended keeping gatherings small, only celebrating with members of your household or asking guests for their vaccination status before sending out invites.
According to the CDC, 68% of the U.S. population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, almost 60% are fully vaccinated and 15% have received a booster.
COVID-19 cases have been rising over the last few weeks. As of Nov. 14, the U.S. had a seven-day case rate of 170.41 per 100,000 people. In mid-October, the ratio sat around 140 cases per 100,000 people.