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Cass County reinstates mask mandate for employees, visitors

Coverings required of visitors in all county buildings, too

The Cass County Courthouse in October 2016.
The Cass County Courthouse in Fargo. Forum file photo
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FARGO — Cass County commissioners are opting to reinstate a mask mandate for employees and visitors to county buildings.

The requirement took effect Tuesday, Sept. 21, following the 3-2 vote at their Monday meeting.

County Administrator Robert Wilson said at Monday's meeting that department heads were "overwhelmingly" in favor of the measure. He said the county workforce has done a good job of not having widespread cases of COVID-19 in their departments in the past year and a half, and he would like to keep it that way.

He called the current increase in county cases a "serious" issue after he heard from Fargo Cass Public Health officials and members of the medical community.

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Commissioner Mary Scherling said "anything that we can do to keep people safe" should be done.

"If we care about each other, we should wear a mask," she said.

Scherling described a recent meeting involving county officials during which one person had the coronavirus and presumably was the cause of spreading it to everyone in the room as no one was wearing masks.

Commission Chairman Chad Peterson, who voted against the mandate with Commissioner Rick Steen, said he struggled with the issue.

He pointed out that 90% of people who have the virus or are hospitalized aren't vaccinated. He added that he believed COVID-19 and its variants "were here to stay," but "people have to start living again."

Joining Scherling in voting for the mandate were commissioners Jim Kapitan and Duane Breitling.

Visitors to county buildings, including the jails, court rooms and laws enforcement center, will be provided masks at entrances if they don't have one. Masks are required to be worn throughout the buildings.

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Employees will wear their masks when meeting with the public and when in communal areas of their offices.

The commission did not establish an end date for the policy.

An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. bamundson@forumcomm.com 701-451-5665
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