North Dakota’s coronavirus situation worsening, masks now mandated in Fargo

October has been a record month for new coronavirus cases in Manitoba and North Dakota, but the province and state remain thousands of cases apart as both implement new restrictions.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Manitoba had 1,746 active cases, while North Dakota was dealing with 6,032 active infections.

Dr. Joshua Wynne, University of North Dakota’s vice president of health affairs and chief health strategist for the state, believes the recent spike is a result of what he calls ‘COVID fatigue.’

“The holidays are coming up, it’s getting colder out and people are gathering, so you have the perfect recipe,” Wynne said.

Read more: U.S. researchers project Canada could see over 16,000 coronavirus deaths by January

North Dakota reported a record 1,036 coronavirus cases on Oct. 19.

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Several parts of the state, including Fargo in Cass County, are now in the “high risk” orange level on the state’s coronavirus response system.

Under the elevated risk level, no restrictions have been mandated.

The state strongly recommends non-essential businesses operate at 25 per cent occupancy with a cap of 50 people and encourages face coverings.

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Dr. Wynne said a number of businesses have already made masks mandatory.

“We value personal responsibility pretty high,” he said. “Do we need to do more? Absolutely.”

Read more: Canadian couple forced to quarantine at home after being denied entry at U.S. border

On Monday the City of Fargo decided to mandate face coverings on its own.

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Residents are now required to wear masks both indoors and outdoors when they are exposed to non-household members and social distancing is not possible.

“As we started seeing our numbers increase locally we decided that we needed to make a change,” Chris Ohman from Fargo-Cass Public Health told Global News.

“We [need to] get that cooperation with the public and our stakeholders to follow the recommendations and masks where they have to now — that it’s a mandate — and socially distance as much as possible.”

Read more: Canada extends border restrictions with United States until late November

Melissa Brandt, the president of Fargo’s Downtown Community Partnership, said local business owners continue to struggle during the pandemic.

Fargo, a popular destination for Manitobans, is also feeling the impact of not having tourists visit the city.

“Canadian traffic and having visitors come and enjoy our city is really, really vital to us,” Brandt said. “Not just economically but for the community in general.”

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The Canada-U.S. land border closure was extended again this week and will remain closed until at least Nov. 21 for non-essential travel.

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