Lately there has been a big PR push from Gov. Doug Burgum about how he is going to stand against President Joe Biden's actions on workplace regulations regarding COVID.

What does this message do right now? Cases are starting to exponentially climb again. Isn’t it a bit of a mixed message to say this right now, while also saying it's vital for people to get vaccinated? Wouldn’t the priority be to protect the people who are not vaccinated and vulnerable?

This isn’t political. I don’t like Biden or Donald Trump. The country is in a health emergency. What Biden is doing is listening to his health advisers, who are telling him things are an emergency, because every other state with vaccination rates as low as North Dakota is having ICUs overwhelmed and children dying. Burgum should have listened to his health advisers last fall, when the state’s COVID risk maps contradicted and went against both the Mayo Clinic risk maps, and the state’s own guidelines.

How are COVID rules any different than any other law that prevents people from harming other people? Why are there workplace safety laws? Why are there seat belt laws? Why are there secondhand smoke laws? Why can’t you drink and drive?

Drunk driving kills about 50 people in North Dakota a year. COVID has killed 2,500, 1 in 500 people in North Dakota in a little over a year. All of these laws are equally valid. It is the governor’s job to enforce those laws, not pawn the responsibility off on small business owners, who risk losing even more customers by telling them they have to wear masks.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

COVID is not going away. We need to start holding public officials accountable, both for action and inaction that results in needless death. The last year has shown that personal responsibility is not sustainable long term. Otherwise the economy will continue to suffer, more people will needlessly die, and the state will be even less prepared if we do get a variant that evades the vaccine. It’s not the shutdowns causing a bad economy, it’s the virus.

Robert James, Grand Forks