North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, acknowledging the rise in positive COVID-19 cases and deaths related to COVID-19, again rejected imposing a statewide mandate to wear masks and other actions, focusing instead on encouraging North Dakotans to take personal responsibility to help stop the virus.

During his media briefing Thursday morning, Burgum noted he has been saying North Dakota would likely be entering its “darkest period for the state” with respect to COVID-19’s impact. The “hotspots” for COVID-19 have moved around the country over the past several months, and are currently hitting the Midwest.

Burgum said the loss of every North Dakotan reverberates throughout the communities. But he noted the virus only lives in people and spreads from people. He emphasized wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings can help dramatically reduce COVID-19 levels.

“[These are] simple things that don’t require government intervention, government mandates,” the governor said. “It just requires us to do our part to stop the spread.”

He urged North Dakotans to be role models to the rest of the nation for individual responsibility.

The goal, the governor reiterated several times during the media briefing, is to reduce the most virus transmissible moments while having the least government impact on people and businesses.

Burgum said if people would commit to wearing masks and avoiding large gathering for two or three weeks, the state would see a significant drop in COVID-19 — “we could bend the curve,” the governor said.