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ICYMI: Gov. Burgum raises risk level of 21 counties, emphasizes personal responsibility over mandates

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With indoor holiday gatherings approaching, Gov. Doug Burgum said now is the time to get serious about the virus.

“Looking ahead to what’s in front of us, we’ve got some real challenges,” Burgum said.

He raised the risk level of 21 counties, and commended local leaders for acting, including Bismarck commissioners, who passed an unenforceable mask mandate this week by a vote of 3-2.

He emphasized the importance of wearing a mask, something the state’s chief health strategist says is vital in slowing the spread.

“The most important thing by far is to take the public health preventive measures to mask as appropriate, stay away from large gatherings, wash your hands, keep your distance and so forth,” Wynne said.

Burgum also addressed a recent study that found Kansas counties with enforceable mask mandates had half as many cases as the statewide average.

“Mandates can be at times correlated to that, which you’re showing, but it may not be the cause of the slowing of the spread,” Burgum said.

One of the researchers on that study said it does show that masks play a role in containing the virus.

“We do have very convincing evidence that masks have slowed the spread of the disease,” Donna Gither, Director of the University of Kansas’s Institute for Policy and Social Research said.

Burgum added that mandates work for populations that want to wear masks. But for ones that don’t, like many who attended this week’s Bismarck City Commission meeting, they won’t.

Burgum urged people be safe on Halloween, and announced he’ll no longer have his home open to trick-or-treaters this year, but will have a virtual costume contest on Facebook.

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