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State Health Council meets, discusses governor’s recent actions and state of pandemic

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The North Dakota State Health Council met Wednesday morning to give updates on the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.  

The wide-ranging meeting included commentary on the governor’s recent orders mandating masks and limiting restaurant capacity, among other actions.  

Dr. Stephen McDonough, a physician and former longtime state health department official gave a statement at the meeting critical of the new measures and how he thinks they could be better implemented.

McDonough recommended that mask noncompliance penalties should be based on a citation model with fines at each offense, risk categorization needs to be based on cases per capita and mask-wearing, and mask usage needs to be at 95 percent across the state to reduce deaths.   

“The time for happy talk is over, and the time for tough love needs to start. Communities should be required to take responsibility for their actions. Once mask use gets to be 95 percent, it will be safer to go out in public and businesses can be more open,” McDonough said. “You’ve seen where the current approach has taken us and where we must go in the future.” 

McDonough’s other recommendations to the council included a revised public education campaign surrounding masks, and greater surveying of mask-wearing by the Department of Health.   

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