FARGO — As coronavirus cases grow in Cass County, North Dakota Department of Health field epidemiologist Brenton Nesemeier says that without a vaccine, our best weapon against the virus is education.

Nesemeier says contact tracing is showing them that the biggest spreaders of the virus in the state are large gatherings like weddings and other events. Events where people come from multiple cities and gather with no mask-wearing or social distancing can increase virus spread as those people then bring the virus back to their own, smaller communities.

That's part of the reason the mayors of the state's 5 biggest cities: Grand Forks, West Fargo, Fargo, Bismarck and Minot jointly issued a letter pleading with the public to wear masks and practice social distancing, sanitizing and refraining from going to events.

Nesemeier says it's what they've told people to do all along, and now they're dealing with health care systems that are busier than ever. He believes that without any sort of government enforcement, they can only keep pleading for everyone to work together.

"People are letting their guard down and really introducing more exposures to themselves, really for cases to go down, we need all parts to work cohesively," Nesemeier said.

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He also says Cass County has plenty of testing sites for close contacts that can be found on their website. For now, there aren't plans for mass testing events like those that have occurred at the Fargodome this summer.