Fargo City Commission extends mask mandate
FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) – In a 3-1 vote, the Fargo City Commission decides to extend its face mask mandate until March 22nd.
Fargo City Commissioner Tony Gehrig was the sole vote against the face mask mandate extension. Commissioner Dave Piepkorn was not present, but has voted against extending the mandate in the past.
The extension comes following a recommendation from Fargo Cass Public Health.
The Health Board says masks have effectively reduced the spread of COVID-19 in our area.
“In terms of where active cases were and then, [a] mask mandate was implemented and we saw a decline despite the holiday season, where we know folks get together, so we thought, there’s got to be some correlation,” explained Chelsey Matter with the Fargo Cass Public Board of Health.
Fargo City Commissioner Tony Gehrig, the sole vote against the mandate extension, disagrees.
“To suggest that the mask mandate is the reason for the decline in the number of cases isn’t scientific. You said there must be causation or some correction; no one can prove that,” Gehrig said.
The Health Board says masks are especially important now that schools are back in session but the majority of teachers aren’t vaccinated, and a variant of the virus has been confirmed in North Dakota.
Several other reasons were taken into consideration at Wednesday’s special meeting, including low vaccination rates in Cass County.
“We’re at probably close to 20% only, and herd immunity is considered at about 70%,” added Fargo City Commissioner Arlette Preston.
Some in the community believe the mandate extension was the right move.
“I work with kids at schools and I’m constantly around people this entire time, and I think it’s really important because we’ve had so many cases and because of my mask, I believe, at least, I’ve kept myself safe,” said Sarah Connell of Fargo.
Others believe the mandate infringes on their personal rights.
Philip Reim of Fargo said, “I am against any mask mandates. I don’t think it’s the government’s business to make my health decisions for me, on a local or federal level.”
Fargo’s mandate was set to expire on Thursday.
West Fargo Commissioners also agreed to extend the city’s mask strategy until May 3rd.
West Fargo’s is not a mandate, but rather a recommendation that strongly encourages the usage of masks.