Surging coronavirus numbers in Fargo has left Mayor Tim Mahoney contemplating how to best handle the outbreak, with more action possible following a citywide mask mandate that was implemented earlier this week.
The mask mandate requires all residents and visitors in Fargo wear a mask or face covering when exposed to non-household members. “This is about science, not politics. This is our community’s health," Mahoney said.
According to the North Dakota Department of Health, there are, as of Thursday, more than 6,300 active cases of COVID-19 in the state, with 1,347 of them in Cass County, which is home to Fargo. Cass County has seen cases skyrocket in October.
Last Friday, the county had 947 active cases, and the Friday before that (Oct. 9) there were 722, and going back to the first Friday of October (Oct. 2) there were 584 active cases in the county. According to Johns Hopkins University, North Dakota leads the country in number of new cases per capita over the past two weeks.
“We’re not doing well. I’m very concerned,” Mahoney told The Associated Press this week. “Our counts are not going down so we’re going to have to do something dramatic to get them down.”
Active cases represent people of all age groups, though people in their 20s account for 381 current infections and individuals in their 30s account for an additional 227 cases.
There are 168 COVID-19 patient currently hospitalized in North Dakota, though only 27 are in intensive care. However, just 12.65% of the state's staffed hospital beds are available.
Forum News Service reports that Mahoney is considering further action to cope with the spike in cases, though he hopes to avoid shutting down businesses.
"There are bars that seem to be over capacity; we are talking with the business owners. What we usually try to do first is have dialogue and discussions and make people aware of what the issues are and what our recommendations are. The health department also has environmentalists that can go into the bar and make recommendations," Mahoney told Forum News Service.
One way to contend with the outbreak is for people in the Fargo-Moorhead area to utilize a new saliva testing facility that just opened this week in Moorhead, where anyone can get a test for free and insurance is not required. Furthermore, anyone can get a saliva test even if they don't have symptoms.
The saliva testing facility is located at the former Thomas Edison High School (1110 S. 14th St.) and is open Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 12-7 p.m., and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.