How politics plays into the pandemic

Local News

Many more North Dakotans than usual are casting their votes by mail this year. That, of course, is because of the ongoing pandemic.

At his weekly press conference to discuss COVID-19, Governor Doug Burgum spent several minutes urging North Dakotans to find their own personal reasons to slow the spread of the virus. He said that public health measures have been conflated with politics, and that’s making the pandemic more challenging.

“Every aspect of dealing with this pandemic, from testing to social distancing to face coverings to vaccines, has been debated. It’s been challenged. And unfortunately, and perhaps because it’s a presidential election year, they’ve all been politicized,” Burgum said at Wednesday’s briefing.

That’s a point that Burgum’s Democratic-NPL challenger, Shelley Lenz, agrees with. She said that she thinks the Governor, by choosing not to mandate mask usage, is choosing a political side in the pandemic. She disagrees with Burgum’s view that the efficacy of mask mandates is inconclusive.

“Universal mask use will slow the spread as we get that structure in place. If he could do just one thing, if he could find the courage, or find his why, to do one thing is to institute universal mask usage in North Dakota today,” Lenz said.

As of Saturday, there are currently 5,370 North Dakotans infected with the virus.

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