Thanksgiving 2020: 87% of Americans Fear an Increase in COVID-19 Cases After the Holiday

A new survey of 1,000 U.S. respondents reveals 87% of Americans fear an increase in COVID-19 cases after the Thanksgiving holiday. See more findings from the Thanksgiving 2020 survey.

Thanksgiving 2020: 87% of Americans Fear an Increase in COVID-19 Cases After the Holiday

With Thanksgiving 2020 right around the corner, several state officials have released rules and guidelines on how loved ones can safely celebrate the holiday this year.

To measure how different travel and Thanksgiving gatherings will look later this month, our market research company conducted a poll with 1,000 people across the United States.

Drive Research asked respondents questions such as:

  • How will you travel for Thanksgiving this year?
  • How many people will be present at your Thanksgiving gathering?
  • What fears do you have as it relates to COVID-19 and Thanksgiving?

Below are the results.


3 in 5 Americans do not plan to travel for Thanksgiving. This is a 32% increase in those not traveling from 2019.

In 2019, the number of people who traveled by vehicle was just under those who stayed home. However, in 2020 our survey shows a dramatic increase in those choosing to stay home.

Let’s take a look at how this breaks down. Our market research company asked, “How did you travel for Thanksgiving in 2019? Select one.” Answers included:

  • 457 respondents reported they did not travel (45.7%)
  • 450 respondents reported they traveled by vehicle (45%)
  • 65 respondents reported they traveled by airplane (6.5%)
  • 15 respondents reported they traveled by bus (1.5%)
  • 13 respondents reported they traveled by train (1.3%)

Modes of transportation when traveling for thanksgiving in 2019

Later in the 2020 Thanksgiving Survey, Drive Research asked, “How will you travel for Thanksgiving this year? Select one.” Answers included:

  • 605 respondents reported they will not travel (60.5%)
  • 327 respondents reported they will travel by vehicle (32.7%)
  • 42 respondents reported they will travel by airplane (4.2%)
  • 14 respondents reported they will travel by bus (1.4%)
  • 11 respondents reported they will travel by train (1.1%)

Modes of transportation when traveling for thanksgiving in 2020

Based on these results, Americans can expect far fewer travelers during Thanksgiving weekend than years prior. Here are how the 2020 numbers compare to 2019.

3 in 5 Americans do not plan to travel for Thanksgiving. This is a 32% increase from 2019.


This year, the average Thanksgiving gathering size is expected to decrease by a third (33.3%).

With social distancing regulations still in place, many are forced to change their traditional Thanksgiving plans to remain safe and healthy. Not only does this include how Americans will travel for the holiday, but the number of people at their gatherings as well.

In 2019, respondents reported an average of 9 people at their Thanksgiving gathering.

In 2019, respondents reported an average of 9 people at their Thanksgiving gathering.

The number of people attending a Thanksgiving gathering at once is expected to decrease by 33.3%.

When asked, “Including yourself, how many people do you plan on eating with during Thanksgiving this year?” the average number was 6.

Average size of thanksgiving gatherings in 2020


87.4% of Americans fear an increase in COVID-19 cases after the Thanksgiving holiday.

As with most 2020 events and gatherings, COVID-19 will certainly introduce new emotions and fears when celebrating Thanksgiving.

Our market research firm asked respondents specifically what fears they had for the upcoming holiday as it pertains to COVID-19.

  • 87.4% fear an increase in cases after the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • 87.3% fear friends and family getting sick from the virus.
  • 84.5% fear of being exposed to the virus.
  • 77.4% fear exposing others to the virus.
  • 72.5% fear a lack of food or products at grocery stores.

COVID-19 and Thanksgiving Fears for 2020


Thanksgiving 2020 Survey Methodology

Drive Research collected a total of 1000 responses as part of a Thanksgiving 2020 Survey. At the 95% confidence level, the survey findings offer a 3.1% margin of error.

If the survey were conducted with another random pool of 1000 Americans, results would yield within +3.1% or -3.1% of the stated totals in the reports. 


About Drive Research

Drive Research is a national market research company, specializing in PR surveys. We execute both qualitative and quantitative services for clients across the country. Our research has been featured in top media outlets such as USA Today, Forbes, Statista, and Yahoo Finance.

To learn more about our services, contact Drive Research today!

  1. Message us on our website
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emily carroll about the author

Emily Carroll

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Coordinator. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.


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