The North Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill Monday that would “prohibit state and local officials, schools and businesses from mandating face masks.”
The bill passed by a narrow margin in a 50—44 vote and will now go to the State Senate, according to reporting by the Grand Forks Herald.
Republican North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum put a statewide face coving mandate in place three months ago, but it reportedly expired in January. Before the mask mandate was enforced across the state, other cities and counties — including Fargo, Grand Forks, and Bismarck — had already required masks in public.
The sponsor of the bill, Republican state Rep. Jeff Hoverson, said North Dakota should be free like South Dakota. The Grand Forks Herald reported in January that both states’ coronavirus case numbers have dropped, while North Dakota imposed a mask mandate and its southern neighbor did not, rather providing information to citizens and allowing them to make the decision themselves. Experts warn against comparing the two states, however, because of their varying tactics.
Hoverson called mask mandates “diabolical silliness” and reportedly discussed government-issued mask mandates as part of a larger conspiracy led by “unelected, wealthy bureaucrats who are robbing our freedoms and perpetuating lies.”
Other supporters of the bill claimed that wearing masks does not help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The only lawmaker to speak out against the piece of legislation was Republican state Rep. Jason Dockter, who said the state should allow counties, schools, employers, and cities “local control” over their decisions.
The Herald reports that while COVID-19 cases dropped after the governor issued the mask mandate, experts have noted that this was likely because of many factors, including greater social distancing efforts and restrictions on the operation of businesses.
The move from North Dakota comes as the CDC released new guidelines this month on the importance of mask-wearing, including double mask-wearing. A summary of the CDC report released early on Feb. 10, stated that the CDC did experiment... (Read more)
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