Pediatricians send letter to Burgum pleading for mask mandate

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 9:52 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Nearly the entire medical community is in agreement that masks help slow the spread of COVID-19 and those that keep our children healthy are urging Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., to make them mandatory.

Dozens of pediatricians across North Dakota sent Burgum a letter, saying, quote, “The refusal to endorse a mask mandate is no longer an act of strong leadership; the refusal ignores sound science.”

“It would allow us to clearly communicate what health preserving recommendations we have for our communities to keep our families safe and to keep our communities thriving,” said Kathy Anderson, ND Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics president.

“Of the states with the 15 highest positivity rates in the country right now, 7 of them have mask mandates, 8 of them don’t. And so again, even if you look at that data, there’s no conclusion. Masks work. Mask mandates, inconclusive,” said Burgum.

Burgum also says he’s not sure how enforcing a mandate would work.

“We need more carrots, more empathy, more compassion, more understanding. We don’t need bigger sticks. I think we know, at least in North Dakota, bigger sticks don’t work,” said Burgum on Wednesday.

“You can lay out in certain circumstances what those right choices are and why to lay a blueprint that can be followed to ensure that we decrease the amount of suffering and death that we see in our community,” said Anderson.

Anderson says failing to act could have dire consequences.

“Once we see our typical winter hit and the typical diseases come into play, there’s going to be unnecessary loss of life,” said Anderson.

She says hospitals will be spread thin once the flu season hits and there won’t be enough doctors to treat those with survivable diseases.

The letter states that although universal masking is not a perfect solution, until there’s a safe and effective vaccination, it’s the state’s best option to avoid a public health disaster this winter.

Copyright 2020 KFYR. All rights reserved.

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