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Governor: Do the right thing

Matt Gerszewski, Minot

Congratulations, Governor, on your huge re-election victory this week. There is no doubt you are a very popular office holder. This is a fervent plea for you to use that popularity and your immense political capital to help the state get a much tighter hold on the extremely serious COVID outbreak in the state.

First, please review the recent virus numbers with a clear, unbiased, non-ideological mind, and finally acknowledge the severity of the outbreak. It’s time to face the facts: the state needs to do a much, much better job on acknowledging and mitigating the outbreak.

Second, implement a statewide indoors mask-wearing mandate for workers and the public, appropriate business and crowd restrictions, and better contract tracing efforts.

I realize a mask mandate is not a popular thing in some parts of the state, but you cannot hide behind a partial reading of public opinion forever. A governor needs to lead based on the evidence available and the public health good that this leadership would provide: Regardless of some contrary public opinion, especially that in your own party and ideological sphere, it is scientifically indisputable that wearing masks and avoiding crowds would put a significant brake on COVID infections and deaths.

It’s not enough to say this is a local problem and can be met only at the city or county level, and only voluntarily. All North Dakotans have become increasingly vulnerable to the virus. The longer we wait to take strong statewide action, the worse it will get. If you view a mask mandate and crowd restrictions as generally unpopular, fine, then do the UNPOPULAR thing. Do the RIGHT thing. You will not lose much of your political capital and you may indeed gain more support among those who have not previously supported you.

You took somewhat quick and substantial action in March and April. The situation is a lot worse now and much more needs to be done very quickly. Please, please acknowledge that and become the leader we want and need. Thank you.

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