Health officials urge caution with holiday plans as COVID cases stay high

Jeremy Turley Forum News Service 2020 photo
Kirby Kruger (right), director of the North Dakota Division of Disease Control, speaks about COVID-19 at a press conference in Bismarck on March 3. Former State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte stands behind Kruger. Forum News Service file photo

BISMARCK, N.D. – State health officials are asking North Dakotans to be cautious with their upcoming holiday plans as the state continues to deal with high case loads of the coronavirus.

“There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with COVID-19 at a holiday celebration,” Disease Control Director Kirby Kruger said in a news release Friday, Nov. 13. “If you follow proper precautions, celebrating during the holidays can be done with less risk.”

As of Friday, the state has 10,486 active coronavirus cases. The state also surpassed 700 deaths in Friday's report; 707 North Dakotans have died either with or from COVID-19 since March.

The state created a list of holiday activities, based on risk of potential infection.

Lower-risk activities include a small dinner with people living together, a virtual dinner and shopping online or purchasing gift cards from local businesses rather than shopping the day after Thanksgiving.


Medium-risk activities would include a small dinner with a few extended family members who live in the same community or having a small outdoor sporting event, with safety precautions.

The state is encouraging people to avoid higher-risk activities, like traveling out of town, shopping in crowded stores, attending or participating in crowded races or parades and attending medium or large indoor gatherings with people who do not live with you.

The North Dakota University System is also requesting that, when possible, students stay on campus over the Thanksgiving break to limit the spread of COVID-19 to family and others.

It’s a message that’s been shared by presidents across the state, including UND President Andrew Armacost. He encouraged parents to make “the smart decisions for the campus, for the community, and most importantly for your families, as you consider getting together for Thanksgiving.”

“Please do the right thing,” he said.

For those students who choose to travel, they should limit activity and minimize contact with others two weeks prior to any travel or gatherings. The campuses will have testing events before and after the break, and students are encouraged to attend the available testing on campus or in their community.

Students should wear masks, follow social distancing and other hygiene practices.

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.

For story pitches contact her at or call her at 701-780-1134.
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