ND Looking for $1.8 million mask-wearing PSA partner

Gov. Doug Burgum
Gov. Doug Burgum(KFYR-TV)
Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 7:40 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - For the second week in a row, Gov. Doug Burgum is not changing the threat levels for any of the state’s 53 counties.

However, he did say that two counties could be moving to “Higher Risk” as soon as next week: Stark and Williams.

These two have both been hovering around 10% on their rolling averages and are two of the eight counties recently moved to “Moderate Risk.”

And other counties have been hovering above 5% along with the rest of the state.

This has led to the governor moving mask recommendations for employees to any county in the moderate classification, rather than just the high-risk counties.

“If I’m putting a mask on and going into public, I’m helping other people. So this is a different thing, this is a community thing, this is a we’re all in it together. It’s not just about who’s behind the wheel and who’s moving. This is about a virus that can only live and only transport itself in human bodies,” Burgum said.

To help promote the use of masks, the state is offering $1.8 million from the CARES Act budget to a firm to help develop public awareness advertisements for mask wearing and other health initiatives. However, his opponents think this is a lot of money for something he could mandate by executive order.

“COVID is not a problem that can be solved by marketing. It really needs to be part of a comprehensive plan to address COVID. I think public education is important, but it can’t exist in a vacuum. Clearly, they’ve been marketing and that’s been his strategy and it’s not working,” said Democratic Candidate for Governor Shelley Lenz.

No firm has been selected for this project yet.

However, the Burleigh-Morton County Task Force hired its own firm for more than $70,000 to also make public awareness advertisements.

Along with the employee guidelines, Burgum also adjusted the state’s threshold for counties who want their own COVID-19 task force.

Before, if a county saw regular daily positive rates above the state average, they would be the focus of a new county-level task force.

With the statewide average staying above 5% for the first time since April, that threshold is being brought down to a state 5%.

This would qualify many more counties to get a task force like Cass and Burleigh-Morton.

Copyright 2020 KFYR. All rights reserved.

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