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Few South Dakotans traveling for Thanksgiving, AAA survey says
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Few South Dakotans traveling for Thanksgiving, AAA survey says

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More than 80% of South Dakota residents are not planning to travel for Thanksgiving, according to a AAA survey.

The survey's results were released as the CDC issued a no-travel advisory while COVID-19 numbers continue climbing in the state and nation. 

“The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is with your household members. Cook traditional family recipes, have a virtual dinner with your friends and family, or watch parades and movies from your cozy couch,” the CDC tweeted Wednesday. “This Thanksgiving, help slow the spread: gather outdoors, wear a mask, stay six feet apart.”

The AAA travel survey indicates that more than 40% of South Dakotans who are staying home for Thanksgiving said they’re doing so because of COVID-19. South Dakota continues to have the second-highest rate of new COVID-19, according to data compiled by the New York Times.

“Given the recent surge in COVID-19 and the strong urging of public health officials for everyone to stay home for the holiday, the Thanksgiving travel landscape continues to change,” said Marilyn Buskohl, spokesperson for AAA South Dakota. “With that in mind, AAA conducted a new poll asking South Dakota residents who have decided against traveling for the holiday whether COVID-19, specifically, was the reason.” 

The AAA survey says:

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  • 83% of South Dakota residents surveyed will be staying home for the Thanksgiving holiday;
  • 44% say they are not traveling because of COVID-19;
  • 56% say they were not planning to travel anyway;
  • 86% of South Dakota residents surveyed said they perceive traveling at this time poses a risk;
  • 34% call that risk “significant.”

Of the survey respondents still planning to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, 94% plan to drive, 4% plan to fly, and 2% plan to travel by some other mode of transportation such as bus or train. The AAA survey of 1,346 South Dakota residents was conducted Nov. 12 and 13 by Public Policy Polling. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7%.

“Although Thanksgiving is typically a driving holiday, it should be noted that since the beginning of COVID, those who have decided to travel this year have predominantly done so by car where they can have greater control over their environment and the ability to modify plans at the last minute,” Buskohl said.

AAA reminds those who will be driving to plan their route ahead. To minimize the number of stops along the way, pack meals, plenty of snacks and beverages, an emergency roadside kit, and extra masks and wipes.

“COVID-19 adds an extra layer of complexity to all interactions, including roadside emergency calls, so this year it is more important than ever for all motorists to ensure that their vehicles are road ready, even if they are just driving across town,” Buskohl said.

AAA encourages those who do choose to travel to know the risks involved and ways to keep themselves and others safe. In addition to CDC guidance, travelers should be aware of local and state travel restrictions, including testing requirements and quarantine orders in the states you are traveling to, through and also upon your return.

An interactive map with the latest COVID-19 related restrictions for all states can be found at

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