How North Dakota has been able to drop its COVID-19 case count

WINNIPEG — As Manitoba continues to see cases lowering throughout the majority of the province, its neighbours to the south have also seen some success in the fight against COVID-19.

At one point in the pandemic North Dakota had the highest number of cases throughout all of the United States, but that has since changed.

In November, North Dakota had over 10,000 active cases, compared to just over 1,000 as of Friday.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney explains why it changed.

“What we did as mayors, we were very concerned about the numbers and we didn’t like all the national newscasters calling us because we were the number one state in the nation for COVID penetration. So we started a mask mandate,” said Mahoney.

He said Fargo was the first city to institute the mandate and that was followed by 70 per cent of city mayors and then the governor also adopted the mandate.

Mahoney said the people of North Dakota started to take the necessary steps to prevent COVID when the mandate came in.

“I had a directive to say wear a mask, but the minute we said mandate, that’s when things started to happen. So the mandate was the most powerful word you could put out there. So if you say advice or strong directive or those types of things, people do not seem to react to that.”

Mahoney said another factor that helped turn things around was the hospital numbers that were being posted.

“When people began to realize that our hospitals were filling up and we were going to have some issues if you had a routine heart attack if you overwhelmed your hospital, we felt people started taking it really seriously.”

The mayor said sharing as much data as possible was important for the state, as he said the more that was shared, the fewer people they had doubting what was happening and calling COVID fake.

Mahoney added that because of the success the state is having they have been able to reopen some businesses, such as bars which are allowed to have 65 per cent capacity.

North Dakota had 153 new cases on Friday and a test positivity rate of 2.5 per cent.

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