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Letter: The numbers show masks work, so keep it up

Active cases dropped 85% from 10,173 to 1,513, and hospitalizations dropped 70% from 319 to 95. Deaths have dropped by 86% from an average 16.6 per day in November to 2.2 in January.

Letter to the editor FSA

North Dakota governor’s decision to end the mask mandate on January 18 is the latest disastrous and cowardly decision by an overmatched leader. We are now going into phase two of a light touch of government. How did our state fare during phase one? North Dakota had the greatest 7-day COVID death rate in the world for most of two months, had the greatest COVID case rate in the USA for over three months and the greatest death rate in the USA for nearly 2 months. Nearly 1400 North Dakotans have died from COVID and I estimate that 658 of these deaths could have been prevented during September and November had a mask mandate been implemented in September.

What happened during our mask mandate? On Nov. 13, the day the mandate was announced, North Dakota had the highest death rate in the world. On January 15, the day the end of the mandate was announced, North Dakota had the third lowest case rate in the USA, among the best where we should have been all along.

The mask mandate worked wonderfully. Mask use and social distancing improved dramatically and cases, hospitalizations and deaths plummeted. Active cases dropped 85% from 10,173 to 1,513, and hospitalizations dropped 70% from 319 to 95. Deaths have dropped by 86% from an average 16.6 per day in November to 2.2 in January.

A “light touch” during the deadliest pandemic in 100 years is nothing more than public health malpractice, an epic collapse of leadership and the single greatest public health failure in our state’s 131-year history. Now the burden of protecting our citizens falls on local leaders who have shown more courage than state leaders.

North Dakotans, please continue to wear your masks. They do work and have saved hundreds of lives.

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Stephen McDonough, MD, Bismarck

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