Letter: Gov. Burgum: ND businesses should remain closed

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On April 27th, Gov. Burgum announced that North Dakota businesses in compliance with certain guidelines would be allowed to reopen on Friday, May 1st. Meanwhile, he kept many of the downtown properties he owns through the Kilbourne group closed, according to social media reports. The disparity between his words and his actions illustrates the danger his order poses to businesses and the health of the Cass County community.

While this order was intended to keep businesses afloat, it only succeeds in creating a painful predicament. As an employee at a worker-owned business in downtown Fargo, Red Raven Espresso Parlor, I’ve experienced this quandary firsthand, as my co-workers and I, many of whom are facing financial instability, choose between paying the bills for our business and prioritizing the health of our community. We, as well as many other businesses in downtown Fargo, have made the decision to remain closed.

We must delay reopening. COVID-19 testing must be widely available to safely reopen, yet testing sites outside of the Fargodome and elsewhere were canceled on May 4th due to supply shortages. While we are one of the first states in the country to attempt reopening, some models indicate that North Dakota should be the last state to do so. With the projected peak still to arrive, data from the North Dakota Department of Health show 1,225 confirmed cases and 25 deaths as of May 4th. Relaxing social distancing will only worsen this crisis, straining our healthcare system and increasing our state’s death toll.

We are all eager to return to business and life as usual, but at the moment that is simply not an option. North Dakota businesses must remain closed.

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