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Burgum: Avoid traveling and large gatherings on Thanksgiving

November 20, 2020 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Gov. Doug Burgum on Friday asked North Dakotans to stay home on Thanksgiving and to not celebrate the holiday with people outside of their households to help slow the rampant spread of the coronavirus and preserve the state’s hospital capacity.

Burgum’s request mirrors a Thanksgiving warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging Americans not to travel and instead to celebrate the holiday only with immediate family.

“These gathering can be dangerous, if not deadly, for those who are vulnerable,” Burgum said during his weekly COVID-19 update at the state Capitol.

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Like many states in the Upper Midwest, North Dakota is in the grips of a severe outbreak of COVID-19, logging another 1,408 confirmed cases and 23 more deaths from the disease on Friday, according to the state’s health department. That brought it’s totals since the pandemic began to more than 70,000 cases and 818 deaths. There are 9,915 active cases statewide.

Burgum was joined at the briefing by doctors who warned that the holiday weekend could lead to more infections if precautions are ignored.

“Please sacrifice this holiday season so you can hold future holiday seasons with your family,” said Joshua Ranum, a Hettinger physician and vice president of the North Dakota Medical Association.

The health department reported Friday that there were 289 people hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, which was a net gain of 13 since Thursday. There were seven staffed Intensive Care Unit beds and 187 inpatient beds available at hospitals in the state.

Sanford Health Bismarck had only one staffed ICU bed and eight staffed inpatient beds available. CHI St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck had no staffed ICU beds and eight inpatient beds available.

North Dakota continued to rank first in the country for new cases per capita in the last two weeks. One out of every 81 people in the state tested positive in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.