Bismarck approves COVID-19 Shelters for vulnerable people
BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - In a packed city building with residents lined down the hall and watching in overflow rooms, the city commission unanimously approved plans for the COVID-19 shelters. But not without debate and contention.
“And so my concern is that our liberties are at risk here,” one speaker said.
“We really need to defend our liberties as North Dakotans. We’re not like the rest of the country,” said another.
The biggest question: if those who seek shelter under this program would be allowed to leave. Many in the room thought residents would be locked in until the quarantine period was completed.
“You cannot force an American citizen to do anything against their will unless they break the law. You can’t force me to wear a mask, buy a house, get a job, any of those things. You can’t force people into quarantine,” said a third speaker.
And those concerns had a seat at the table, via Commissioner Mark Splonskowski, who argued where the contract says a “resident is to remain designated in their own room... at all times” should be clarified.
Splonskowski said he would agree to the contract if a clause was added saying “people could leave at any time, but they would lose their room,” a concern public health leaders said was already a part of the shelter program.
And fighting the misconception and misinformation had become a trend. Those who spoke out against the deal say they would support some changes, which commissioners will vote on in the coming days.
The program is paid for by CARES Act dollars, and already had a similar program in Bismarck and seven other cities since April.
Commissioners also voted to extend the city’s state of emergency.
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