By Associated Press - Friday, September 11, 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A North Dakota county that is among the COVID-19 hot spots in the state has voted unanimously against creating a public mask mandate.

The Bismarck Tribune reports nearly a dozen people spoke out against the idea at the Morton County Commission meeting on Thursday.

Morton and Burleigh counties include the Bismarck metropolitan area and have taken over as the state’s hot spot for the virus in the past several weeks, and account for 25 percent of the active cases in North Dakota at present.

Gov. Doug Burgum in July announced a task force for the counties to address the spike in coronavirus cases in the region. The panel last week requested that local governments enact mask mandates and make guidelines for businesses requirements.

The Bismarck City Commission on Tuesday did not move to mandate masks.

Morton County Commissioner Andy Zachmeier moved to deny a mandate on several points, including no public support for a mandate, no plan for enforcement and the belief that a mask mandate should come from the governor.

Burgum has avoided statewide mandates such as mask-wearing, instead stressing a personal responsibility message.

Health officials reported 244 new coronavirus cases on Friday and four deaths, including three in Burleigh County.

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