North Dakota’s House of Representatives voted to pass a bill on Feb. 22 that will forbid future mask mandates in the state with a 50-44 vote, advancing the bill to the Senate.
Rep. Jeff Hoverson of Minot sponsored House Bill 1323 (pdf), which states, “A state or local elected official, the state, or a political subdivision of the state may not mandate an individual in this state [to] use a face mask, face shield, or other face covering.”
In addition, schools and businesses cannot require the “use of a face mask, shield, or covering a condition for entry, education, employment, or services.”
“Sometimes we need to do things simply because it’s the right thing to do,” Hoverson said before the lower chamber voted on Monday. “Of all the bills I’ve introduced, none have come close to this one in terms of supportive emails and calls.”
“This obsession with masks that are on shaky ground have kept us from using available life-saving treatments … we do have an obligation to correct this and turn from this dangerous path. Our elderly deserve better,” he added.
The Republican claimed that there are no solid clinical studies that support widespread mask-wearing protects people from becoming infected with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
One of the largest studies from Denmark involving 6,000 participants found no significant difference in CCP virus infections between those who wore a mask and those who didn’t. Forty-two participants (1.8 percent) in the mask group caught COVID-19 while 53 (2.1 percent) in the control group contracted the disease.
California and New York have higher mask compliance and a more severe lockdown than Florida, but both states have a higher death toll of 49,345 and 46,812 respectively, compared to Florida’s 29,906 fatalities, according to statista.com.
Hoverson said that North Dakota “should be a free state like South Dakota” where people are able to “make healthy decisions for themselves, their families, and their neighbors” instead of being forced by the government.
As of Jan. 23, North Dakota had 99,416 cases and 1,439 deaths, and South Dakota had a slightly higher number at 111,546 cases and 1,863 deaths. However, South Dakota did not shut down its businesses or require statewide mask-wearing.
GOP Rep. Jason Dockter said he couldn’t support the bill because it was more about “local control” instead of giving people or organizations a choice to enforce mask-wearing where needed.
“I don’t like wearing masks but there comes a point where public health is very important,” Dockter said. “And if people want to decide to have a mandate for a certain organization or certain political subdivisions, they should have that choice but they should also have the choice not to mandate.”
Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, allowed the statewide mask requirement to end on Jan. 18 after he enforced it back in November 2020 due to increases in COVID-19 cases, fatalities, and hospitalizations.
However, certain school districts still require masks to be worn at school while others allow the students to go to school without a mask.
While North Dakota has ended its mandatory mask policy, New York has doubled down on it. People are now required to double-mask or wear a “properly fitted” N95 mask approved by the Food and Drug Administration if they want to enter certain federal buildings, according to a new policy (pdf).
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci has also said in a CNN interview that masks may still have to be worn in 2022.