With no statewide mask mandate, some mayors are resorting to options they had long resisted. On Monday, the mayor of Fargo used his emergency powers to issue a mandatory mask order, the first of its kind in the state. Hours later, the City Council of Minot, the fourth-largest city in North Dakota, issued a similar order.
“We were hoping we had escaped the Covid-19,” Mayor Tim Mahoney of Fargo, a practicing surgeon, said in an interview. “Now we’re just like everybody else in the country. It has hit us with a vengeance.
“We kind of thought we’d outsmart it, and you can’t outsmart this virus.”
In other parts of the country, officials are also returning to another tried-and-true method of containing the virus: stay-at-home orders. On Tuesday, local health officials ordered students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to stay in their residences except for essential activities effective immediately, in an effort to control an escalating community outbreak.
Since Oct. 12, cases associated with the university have made up about 61 percent of confirmed and probable local infections, said Jimena Loveluck, the health officer for Washtenaw County, who warned that many cases have been tied to parties and other big gatherings.
“During the day, on campus, everyone’s fine and following the rules,” said Emma Stein, a senior news editor at The Michigan Daily, the student paper, who is now confined at home with her eight roommates. “But at night, on weekends, they don’t.”
The order could leave the campus unusually quiet ahead of Oct. 31, when the university is expected to play its first home football game of the season against its biggest in-state rival, Michigan State. For added deterrence, health officials are considering an extra kick: Within the week, officials said, the health department may start fining people who violate the order to stay at home.
In a sign of how quickly the virus is spreading in many parts of the Midwest and the Great Plains, infections recently overtook a private nursing home in northern Kansas.