Bellevue modeler does the math on the danger of gathering for Thanksgiving

Nov 18, 2020, 8:51 AM | Updated: Nov 21, 2020, 7:50 am
Health officials are advising against gathering for Thanksgiving this year. (Unsplash)

With COVID cases continuing to rise in Washington state, Bellevue’s Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) dug into the data to provide some context over the risks posed by gathering in large groups for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Despite hopeful vaccine news, Thanksgiving warnings remain dire

According to IDM Principal Research Scientist Mike Famulare, Washington’s recent “explosion” in COVID cases and hospitalizations “is due to increasing prevalence in the community.” For anyone planning a well-attended Thanksgiving dinner, that brings significant risk, with prevalence trending toward 1% by the time we reach the holiday.

“What does 1% prevalence in WA on Thanksgiving Day mean?” Famulare posited on Twitter. “Seventy-six thousand people with COVID. Between 25 to (40,000) people who won’t yet know they are sick bringing (COVID-19) to dinner.”

Famulare estimates that of those people carrying infections on Thanksgiving, 450 of them will likely die by New Year’s Eve.

Having 1% prevalence — amounting to 1 in 100 people potentially infected with COVID — also means increased risk for every additional person at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

“If 1% sounds low to you, I ask how big is your group? Each person adds more risk,” Famulare warned. “On average in WA, if you have dinner with 15 people, the risk of at least one bringing COVID is around 15% — 1 in 6.”

KIRO Radio hosts discuss their Thanksgiving plans amid pandemic

“The same odds of catching a bullet in Russian roulette,” he added.

Famulare believes that “if we change our behavior to stop transmission as effectively as we did in March,” there’s a good chance that “we can turn this around and avoid record-shattering hospitalizations, death, and chronic (COVID-19).”

Shortly before announcing a host of new restrictions regarding grocery store capacity, out-of-household gatherings, indoor dining, and more, Gov. Inslee similarly pleaded with Washingtonians last week to avoid gathering with anyone outside your household for Thanksgiving.

Sitting alongside his wife Trudi, Inslee said the “simple request” from their family to everyone else in Washington state is to not have Thanksgiving gatherings unless you can be absolutely sure that everyone outside your own household has been fully quarantined for 14 days, which would have started Nov. 12.

In those instances, Famulare still urged that people “come only for dessert and don’t stay too long” to avoid prolonged contact.

Local News

rapid covid test...
MyNorthwest Staff

UW doctor: When to use a PCR versus rapid antigen test for COVID-19

Dr. Geoff Baird with UW Medicine has a simple formula for weighing the two main COVID test types: PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and rapid antigen.
16 hours ago
USS John McCain...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Naval Station Everett welcomes USS John S. McCain

The USS John S. McCain is now docked at its new homeport, Naval Station Everett.
16 hours ago
vaccine booster, heart...
Stephanie Klein

What to know as Oct. 18 deadline for vaccine mandate approaches

The deadline for state workers, including educators, and healthcare workers to show their employers proof that they're vaccinated against COVID-19 is Monday, Oct. 18.
16 hours ago
KIRO 7 News Staff

Police: Two in custody after hit-and-run suspect rams patrol car; officer fires shots

Two people were taken into custody after a driver suspected of a hit-and-run rammed an officer’s patrol vehicle, resulting in the officer firing shots at the car Saturday night in Medina.
16 hours ago
Seattle library...
MyNorthwest Staff

Last of Seattle Public Library branch closures from pandemic comes to an end

Seattle has reopened its NewHolly library branch, meaning that for the first time since the start of the pandemic, all 27 of the city's branches are now up and running.
2 days ago
KIRO 7 News Staff

2 people shot in Seattle; suspect surrenders to police after SWAT negotiation

A suspect surrendered to police Saturday afternoon after two people were shot in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, the Seattle Police Department said.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles


How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Bellevue modeler does the math on the danger of gathering for Thanksgiving