As the mayors of Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot and West Fargo we have worked together on this unified message to combat COVID-19. We expected this virus would appear in waves and this is something we anticipate will be with us for the foreseeable future. How each citizen of North Dakota handles each wave is the key to getting through this challenging time.

Last April we were isolated at home and watching our economy deteriorate, but these efforts slowed the spread of the virus. Outbreaks were easier to contain and our health care facilities were not overrun. Today, North Dakota is trending towards another significant wave of this virus. And none of us want to revert back to last spring.

To get us through this wave of COVID-19 and to keep our communities open, it’s crucial to be aware of our behaviors: wear a mask when distancing cannot be maintained, wash your hands frequently, and sanitize frequently used surfaces. We must keep our social interactions to small groups, social distance when out in the public, utilize testing events, and if sick stay home.

We ask for increased diligence from our business community when it comes to NDSmart Restart recommendations to include occupant capacity in particular. Further disregard may lead to the necessity of enforcement. Large events should be delayed whenever possible, until further notice.

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

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Stay strong, stay calm, stay safe.

Bakken is mayor of Bismarck; Mahoney is mayor of Fargo; Bochenski is mayor of Grand Forks; Sipma is mayor of Minot; and Dardis is mayor of West Fargo.