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.
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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.”
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“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,”

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