Devils Lake this week will join at least two other North Dakota cities and mandate mask wearing within their communities.
The Devils Lake City Commission approved the mandate, which does not include a penalty, during a special meeting Monday, Oct. 26. The mandate will go into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 28. The mandate itself is still being written.
Devils Lake Mayor Richard "Dick" Johnson said city leaders are concerned that if the rising number of COVID-19 cases continues to trend upward, businesses may have to close down again.
“That’s what really we’re trying to prevent,” he said. “We know that’d be devastating for our community.”
Devils Lake is the county seat of Ramsey County, which has 96 active cases of the virus as of Monday. The cases have been trending upward since the beginning of the month.
“I think the community recognizes that we’ve got a long way to go to get people to mask up because some people just don't like doing that. But it does help. Science proves that,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the mandate passed unanimously and had a great amount of support from the community, including Lake Region State College, the Devils Lake School District and local health officials.
“People just realize that it can't continue this way and we need to do everything we can to mitigate that,” he said. “We've had a lot of support out there.”
Fargo and Minot have implemented similar mandates that do not include penalties for not wearing masks.
Across the state, there have been 6,446 active positive cases as of Monday morning.
There is no statewide mask mandate.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, visited Bismarck on Monday as she tours the region. She said there’s scientific evidence that statewide and local mask requirements have helped to slow the spread of the virus, Forum News Service reported.
"There is not only an evidence that masks work," Birx said. "There is an evidence that masks utilized as a public health mitigation effort work."
There have been 461 deaths related to COVID-19 in North Dakota. October has been the deadliest month for the virus thus far with 190 deaths reported this month.