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Mayors of North Dakota's largest cities jointly urge masks, avoiding events

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Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney speaks as the Red River Valley COVID-19 Task Force unveils a multimedia campaign on Friday, Oct. 2, at Fargo City Hall to educate and promote the reasons that masks are crucial in the mitigation of the COVID-19 virus. The campaign will run in tandem with the #MaskUpND statewide efforts. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — As coronavirus cases climb statewide, the mayors of the five biggest cities in North Dakota have written a letter asking the public to take immediate action to help slow the "significant wave" of cases as health care facilities are being overrun.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney told The Forum Tuesday night, Oct. 13, that the mayors would be doing a conference with Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday to talk further about what can be done.

For now, the letter urges people in capital letters to "WEAR A MASK" when social distancing can't be maintained.

Mahoney also said they are urging delaying large events such as funerals and weddings with large crowds until further notice.

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"We are seeing major outbreaks from some of these social gatherings," Mahoney, a physician, said.

"We need to take this really seriously in the next two weeks and see if we can't get the numbers to go down," he said.

This seems to indicate a change in attitude after just last week, on Oct. 5, Mahoney cast the deciding vote against considering a mask mandate for Fargo at the City Commission meeting.

In the letter, the mayors said the state was "trending towards another significant wave of this virus. And none of us want to revert back to last spring" when residents were isolated and watching the economy "deteriorate."

The letter, which the mayors said was a "unified message," was also signed by West Fargo Mayor Bernie Dardis, Bismarck Mayor Steve Bakken, Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski and Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma.

Besides mask wearing and delaying larger events, the mayors also urged the business community to enforce occupant capacity.

"Further disregard may lead to the necessity of enforcement," the mayors wrote.

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"We thank all citizens and businesses that continue to practice these essential steps and have shown tremendous civic duty for many months now," they wrote. "We will need to continue to keep our guard up by living daily life in a slightly different way."

The mayors also urged people to stay home if sick, limit social interactions to small groups and utilize testing events.

Read the letter below:

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