Decisions to attend holiday gatherings during COVID-19 and engagement in key prevention strategies: United States, January 2021

Epidemiol Infect. 2022 Feb 9:150:e32. doi: 10.1017/S0950268822000115.


Gatherings where people are eating and drinking can increase the risk of getting and spreading SARS-CoV-2 among people who are not fully vaccinated; prevention strategies like wearing masks and physical distancing continue to be important for some groups. We conducted an online survey to characterise fall/winter 2020-2021 holiday gatherings, decisions to attend and prevention strategies employed during and before gatherings. We determined associations between practicing prevention strategies, demographics and COVID-19 experience. Among 502 respondents, one-third attended in person holiday gatherings; 73% wore masks and 84% practiced physical distancing, but less did so always (29% and 23%, respectively). Younger adults were 44% more likely to attend gatherings than adults ≥35 years. Younger adults (adjusted prevalence ratio (aPR) 1.53, 95% CI 1.19-1.97), persons who did not experience COVID-19 themselves or have relatives/close friends experience severe COVID-19 (aPR 1.56, 95% CI 1.18-2.07), and non-Hispanic White persons (aPR 1.57, 95% CI 1.13-2.18) were more likely to not always wear masks in public during the 2 weeks before gatherings. Public health messaging emphasizing consistent application of COVID-19 prevention strategies is important to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-COV-2; behaviors; food; gatherings; masking; mitigation measures; prevention strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 / psychology
  • Family
  • Female
  • Holidays / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Gatherings*
  • Meals
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Participation* / psychology
  • United States
  • Young Adult