Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it hasn’t been uncommon to see states and localities impose mask mandates on their constituents, requiring them to cover their faces indoors and in public spaces. But in North Dakota, such orders may soon be no longer.
The Washington Examiner reported this week that the GOP members of the North Dakota state House had pushed through a bill aiming to ban mask mandates in a 50–44 vote.
First put forth by Republican state Rep. Jeff Hoverson, the ban would apply to the state government along with localities and school districts.
“The mask is a part of a larger apparatus of a movement of unelected, wealthy bureaucrats, who are robbing our freedoms and perpetuating lies,” Hoverson said, according to the Examiner. “Our state is not a prison camp,” he added.
“They should have that choice”
But according to the Examiner, not all Republicans in the state legislature were on board with Hoverson’s proposal. GOP Rep. Jason Dockter complained that it would infringe on the ability of North Dakota localities to govern themselves.
“If people wanted to decide to have a mask mandate, they should have that choice,” Dockter reportedly insisted. “They should also have the choice not to mandate.”
The bill will now move to North Dakota’s state Senate, with is also controlled by Republicans. Should it also pass there, it will then arrive at GOP Gov. Doug Burgmun’s desk.
Notably, Burgmun himself introduced a statewide face mask mandate last November and kept it in place until January.
“The data demands a higher level of mitigation efforts to reverse these dangerous trends,” the governor declared at the time, according to the Examiner.
The question of masks
The debate over how effective mask mandates and other government measures are at controlling the spread of coronavirus is a hot one — and it hasn’t cooled in the year since the disease was first diagnosed in America.
Some critics point to Florida as an example of a state with no mask mandate and minimal restrictions in place; still, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Sunshine State has a coronavirus death toll far below tightly controlled jurisdictions like New York and New Jersey.
If Democrats are so interested in following the science, why aren’t they bringing up numbers like these?