Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said he wants to avoid stricter regulations as a local response to the increased coronavirus positive test numbers of the last week.
"We want people to take this more seriously," he said, when called for comments on a joint press release from the Jamestown mayor and Central Valley Health District.
Stutsman County currently has 137 active coronavirus cases. This amounts to 65 active cases for every 10,000 residents in the county and is the third-highest active case rate in North Dakota behind Eddy County with 82 and Stark County with 73 active cases per 10,000 residents.
Stutsman County also has a higher 14-day rolling average positivity rate at 6.31% than the state of North Dakota rate at 5.60%. Positivity rate is the percentage of positive tests based on the number of tests administered, said Robin Iszler, unit administrator of Central Valley Health District.
Currently, the Stutsman County coronavirus risk level is classified as green or low by the state of North Dakota. Gov. Doug Burgum identified Stutsman as on of three counties that could have the risk level elevated to yellow or moderate the next time the designations are reviewed during a press briefing Tuesday.
Heinrich said a change in the state-designated risk level would not automatically trigger any new regulations in Jamestown.
"What we see ourselves in the community is what we will react to," he said.
Heinrich does have the authority to enact stricter health regulations on an emergency basis. His actions are in force for 10 days and can be extended by the action of the Jamestown City Council.
However, Heinrich said that is an authority he is hoping to avoid using.
"What we hope is people will look in the mirror and see if they are doing everything they can to keep people safe," he said. "If the runaway numbers continue, we'll try to not do a knee-jerk reaction."
Heinrich said he is hoping to see greater numbers of people following prevention measures including wearing face coverings, limiting social interactions to 15 minutes or less, practicing hand hygiene and maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet.
If the numbers continue to climb, other actions may be necessary, he said.
"If it becomes necessary to close bars or reduce the size of groups ... I'm not afraid to make those changes," Heinrich said.
Heinrich said while he may consider a mask mandate it would be difficult to enforce.
"As far as enforcement, the only way is by the businesses themselves," he said. "There is not enough police presence to go around and check everybody."
Heinrich said everyone is hoping new regulations can be avoided.
"We want people to say they will be a little more careful," he said.
Wearing masks in public is strongly encouraged, Iszler said.
"The mask, if nothing else, reminds people we have a serious situation on our hands," Heinrich said.
Iszler said testing for the general public is from 10 a.m. to noon on Fridays at the Jamestown Civic Center. There is a limited number of tests, and the process stops when the testing supplies are gone.
At least some people in Jamestown are tired of coronavirus news and precautions, she said.
"COVID fatigue is a challenge," Iszler said. "We need to continue our safe practice to keep the schools and businesses open."
Heinrich said it comes down to people practicing a few basic precautions until the vaccine can be developed and distributed.
"We just need to be diligent a little longer," he said.