Public thanked for commitment to health and reducing pandemic spread

By supporting health orders, people have helped reduce the spread of COVID-19.

JSSP Guest Column
Courtesy image / Internet Reputation —

By Joan Connell, M.D., NDMA Physician Advisory Group chair

As a physician and chair of the North Dakota Medical Association’s Physician Advisory Group (PAG), I extend a sincere thank you to the citizens of North Dakota on behalf of NDMA and the PAG team for choosing health. By supporting Governor Doug Burgum and Interim State Health Officer Dirk Wilke’s pandemic health orders, you have contributed greatly to saving lives and reducing the COVID-19 spread.

As we navigate through the transition to a new normal, it brings us hope as health care workers to see community members join the fight to help beat this disease so that we may once again reclaim the life we knew. But for now, we need to hang tight and do what is best to protect our neighbors, families, and friends.

As North Dakota’s cases decline, we are confident that these strategies will continue to flatten the curve and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This dramatically reduces the burden placed on frontline health care workers and their ability to provide excellent care for patients. The burden is real, as each day frontline workers willingly accept the risk of infection as they provide care for COVID-19 patients.


We are pleased to learn that North Dakotans have each other’s backs. A recent poll conducted by the North Dakota Newspaper Association shows that the majority of North Dakotans (83%) believe wearing a mask and social distancing are the most effective ways to stop the virus, a position that increases with age. In addition, almost 8 out of 10 North Dakotans (78%) believe that wearing masks and social distancing should continue, regardless of the impact on the economy.

A growing body of scientific evidence strongly supports the effectiveness of reducing the spread through masking and gathering restrictions. There is no dispute that masks lower the spread and help keep transmission rates under control. Since the statewide mask order and gathering restrictions were put in place, North Dakota went from a high of 11,311 current infections on Nov. 14 to 4,758 infections on Dec. 7 – a 58% reduction! North Dakota’s 14-day rolling positivity rates went from 15.60% on Nov. 14 to 8.49% on Dec. 10.

South Dakota – a state with no statewide mask requirement and fewer restrictions than North Dakota - is surpassing North Dakota in hospitalizations, seven-day death rates and infections.

We also thank Governor Burgum and Interim Health Officer Dirk Wilke for great leadership and taking a strong position in protecting the health of our citizens. Together, as North Dakotans, state leaders and frontline health care workers, we save lives and protect the health of North Dakotans.

What we are doing is working and would not work without your support. You have our most humble gratitude. Stay strong. Stay safe.

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