Law enforcement leaders say education key to mask mandate

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Violations of North Dakota’s mask mandate carry a possible fine of up to $1,000. But many law enforcement leaders say issuing a citation for failing to wear a face covering is a last resort and that education is the priority.

Gov. Doug Burgum encouraged law enforcement to prioritize education when he imposed the mandate Friday after months of refraining from an order. He also issued an executive order limiting capacity for bars, restaurants and event venues, and suspended prep sports and extracurricular activities. Burgum directed all local, county and state law enforcement to enforce his executive order.

Bismarck Police Chief Dave Draovitch said officers will respond to calls about violations, but won’t actively be looking for people or businesses that have not complied with the mandate. A citation would be the last resort, Draovitch said.

“I understand that some do not agree with this executive order,

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A mask mandate could have saved thousands

A nationwide mandate requiring employees of public-­facing businesses to wear masks could have saved 17,000 to 55,000 American lives this past spring, according to a study coauthored by an MIT professor and posted on the MedRxiv preprint server in July.

The researchers identified the impact of mask mandates by comparing the before-and-after figures on cases and deaths in states that implemented such policies at different times. After accounting for factors like population density, age and health of state residents, and additional responses to the pandemic in each state, they estimated that imposing a national mandate on April 1 would have reduced the number of deaths by 40%, with a confidence interval of 90%, between then and June 1.

“It is a very effective policy that includes relatively little economic disruption,” says Victor Chernozhukov, a professor in the Department of Economics and the Statistics and Data Science Center at MIT, and

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