The North Dakota Legislature’s passage of the anti-masking bill, HB 1323, is the latest in moronic leadership that resulted in 1,471 of our citizens dying of COVID. This bill should be called “North Dakota declares open season on its grandmas and grandpas.” For where anti-masking went in our state, deaths followed, horrible smothering deaths inflicted on our most vulnerable residents.

The anti-masking crowd doesn’t believe in science, truth and the sanctity of human life. The truth is that masks were the most effective way of controlling and preventing COVID until immunizations arrived. During most of 2020, when our state was following a “light touch of government and individual responsibility,” North Dakota had among the worst mask wearing and social distancing in the United States. The inevitable happened, North Dakota had the highest COVID death rate in the world for most of two months and 62% of our deaths were grandmas and grandpas dying in nursing homes because community members failed to do the right thing, wear a mask. Twelve North Dakota counties have death rates higher than New York City and 30 have highest death rates above the national average.

It was the mask mandates in October and November that turned things around and saved over 1,000 hospitalizations and 400 deaths. Now, the clueless North Dakota Legislature has made it illegal for the state health officer and governor to issue a mask mandate in the future when the next pandemic arrives.

The governor should veto this dangerous, irresponsible, selfish and cruel legislation. Hopefully, there will be enough decent legislators who believe in the sanctity of human life to uphold his veto. If not, North Dakota will receive the well-deserved designation as a state of legendary anti-science zealots who don’t value the lives of our grandparents.

Dr. McDonough served with the North Dakota Department of Health from 1985 to 2000 and has been a practicing pediatrician since 1980. He is the author of "Golden Ounce: A history of public health in North Dakota"

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.