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Plain Talk: Burgum says he has to 'own the miscue' rescinding quarantine order

"We know the government telling people what to do in North Dakota doesn't work," Burgum said, adding that his administration's goal is "compliance" and not punishing people.

Burgum downplays national reports state's coronavirus situation is worse than actually portrayed by administration
Governor Doug Burgum speaking at the coronavirus press conference Thursday, Sept. 3
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"I have to own the miscue," Gov. Doug Burgum said on this episode of Plain Talk.

He was referring to a quarantine order issued by his administration earlier this week which carried with it a misdemeanor criminal charge for anyone who violated it.

The order applied to people who came into close contact with someone positive for COVID-19.


Burgum said interim State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani noticed, upon taking his new position, that North Dakota wasn't in compliance with CDC guidelines on quarantines. "He wanted to align those two things," Burgum said.

The result was the now-rescinded order, which included the misdemeanor charge because state law requires that to be the penalty for disobeying orders from the SHO.

"We know the government telling people what to do in North Dakota doesn't work," Burgum said, adding that his administration's goal is "compliance" and not punishing people.

"It didn't flag for me personally ... that we were going to have the storm of reaction we did," Burgum said.

He said he'd like to work with the Legislature in the next session to give the SHO position some flexibility to issue orders without a criminal consequence for violating them.

"There wasn't a way for us to say that's an infraction instead of a misdemeanor," Burgum said, adding that he'd like to "get people to stop focusing on the penalty."

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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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