Local and state officials across the country and the DMV are urging residents not to travel for Thanksgiving and to avoid gathering in large groups amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a new survey focusing on certain areas of Maryland is showing many are not heeding those warnings.
The survey, commissioned by the University of Maryland Medical System, found that four in 10 Marylanders do not plan on changing their in-person Thanksgiving or holiday plans due to the pandemic.
The survey polled 525 Marylanders across all counties in the state except Allegany, Garrett, Montgomery and Washington from Nov. 16 to Nov. 23.
“No question about it, these survey results are concerning, as our statewide mission to slow the spread of COVID-19 and stop the current surge relies on people heeding the advice of the CDC and Governor Hogan to not travel and refrain from holding large family events during Thanksgiving,” said David Marcozzi, MD, UMMS COVID-19 Incident Commander. “This could be setting up a perfect storm, with COVID cases on the rise throughout the state and multiple super-spreader events, it could cause a significant strain on the state’s healthcare system.”
Results showed that residents in the southern Maryland and Eastern Shore region are less likely to say they have canceled their in-person holiday plans than residents in other regions of the state.
Women, specifically Black women, older adults and those with higher education levels are more likely to say they have changed or adjusted their holiday plans amid the pandemic.
The survey also found that roughly two-thirds of residents interviewed are likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
Those saying they are likely to take the vaccine include white men (76%) and people over age 65 (76%), the survey found. Those groups with higher levels saying they are not likely to take the vaccine include Black women (49%), women in general (43%), those with a high school education or less (49%), and people age 18-34 (42%).
Regionally, people in the Baltimore metro area were more likely to say they would take the vaccine (70%), while those in Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore (55%) and Prince George’s County (62%) report lower levels of likelihood.
“While we’re encouraged that nearly two thirds of Marylanders would take a COVID vaccine, this survey points out that we have more work to do to educate the public about the necessity to vaccinate and alleviate fears and concerns about the vaccines that will become available,” said Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of UMMS. “UMMS will be working tirelessly to make the vaccine available to as many Marylanders as possible, at the appropriate time, and ease concerns by communicating the facts.”