City of Bismark, ND

11/17/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/17/2020 16:15

If You Attend Thanksgiving with 25 People from Burleigh County, There’s a 91% Chance 1 has COVID-19

Large gatherings, particularly events taking place indoors, have been shown to create a greater possibility of COVID-19 infection. As we get closer to the Thanksgiving holiday, where tradition is to gather with friends and family, planning should include a risk assessment for COVID-19.

An online assessment tool is attributing specific risk showing that Burleigh County individuals who attend an event, such as a Thanksgiving dinner, may be at a high risk for encountering at least one person who is COVID-19 positive. The online tool allows you to choose an event size on a sliding scale that ascertains risk. According to the tool, a Thanksgiving with 10 individuals creates a 62 percent risk level. When the event increases to 15 individuals, the risk level increases to 76 percent. A gathering with 25 individuals pushes the risk 91 percent, while gatherings over 50 individuals create a risk greater than 99 percent.

'Thanksgiving has always been a time for families to gather, but in this stage of the pandemic when our positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths are at all-time high, the risk of hosting a gathering should be the first consideration when planning to celebrate the holiday this year,' said Renae Moch, Public Health Director for Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health.

This COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool can be utilized at and allows planning for gatherings of various sizes and bases risk on COVID-19 rates by county. The online tool is a collaborative project led by Professors Joshua Weitz and Clio Andris at the Georgia Institute of Technology, along with researchers at the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory and Stanford University, and powered by RStudio.

Due to the increased risk of COVID-19 infection during a holiday season in the midst of a pandemic, the Center for Disease Control recommends the following information to help try to reduce the spread of this potentially fatal disease:

  • Check the COVID-19 infection rates in areas where attendees live on state, local, territorial or tribal health department websites. Based on the current status of the pandemic, consider if it is safe to hold, or attend, the gathering on the proposed date.
  • Limit the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart at all times. Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.
  • Host a virtual celebration. Families can gather around the table via Zoom to enjoy a meal together.
  • Host outdoor, rather than indoor, gatherings as much as possible. Even outdoors, require guests to wear masks when not eating or drinking.
  • Avoid holding gatherings in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with persons who are not in your household.
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
  • Require guests to wear masks. At gatherings that include persons of different households, everyone should always wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose, except when eating or drinking. It is also important to stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not in your household at all times.
  • Encourage attendees to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items such as serving utensils. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible. Use EPA-approved disinfectants.
  • Use touchless garbage cans if available. Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.
  • Plan ahead and ask guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
  • Treat pets as you would other human family members - do not let pets interact with people outside the household.

Move information about hosting, and traveling to, holiday events is available from the CDC at Specific information about Thanksgiving is available at

'With careful planning and consideration for the health and safety of your friends and family during the holidays this year, you're doing what you can to ensure your loved ones will be around for future holidays to come', said Moch. 'The safest thing to do is to stay home with the people in your own household.'

For ongoing response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Dakota Department of Health has established a COVID-19 Hotline to help answer your questions. You may reach someone with your questions 1-866-207-2880, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with questions. Please note that individuals seeking specific medical advice should contact their healthcare provider.

For COVID-19 inquiries, testing event inquiries, as well as questions about other health programs and issues, please call Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health at 355-1540, or you can connect with us through a variety of online platforms. Information is available at, as well as through social media: via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more info about COVID-19, visit the ND Department of Health website,, or CDC website.