You know you have failed as a leader when Dr. Birx of the coronavirus task force questions why so few are wearing masks in a state with one of the highest infection rates in the world. Remember, this is the same Dr. Birx who had to respond to President Trump's claims that injected disinfectants would be a solution for COVID, so it is safe to assume she has heard and seen it all.
I wish I could have been a fly on the wall, or a sentient virus during her meeting with ND leadership. Her comments to the press left little doubt as to what she thinks of the science denying leaders of ND. When asked about the observations of Dr. Birx, Gov. (I'm scared to leave my gated compound) Burgum again reiterated that it was up to people to do the right thing. I guess "the right thing" explains why using $16 Million dollars meant for COVID response is instead being given to out-of-state oil companies - because his administration failed to hold them accountable.
Bismarck Mayor Steve (Facebook mayoring is easier than the real thing) Baaken decided to get in on the action of denying science. He can be seen wearing his mask like a drunken, first year med student at Halloween, while answering questions. His addition to the day's leadership brilliance was to comment that his interaction with Burgum's office was to oppose mask wearing in Bismarck.
Since the outbreak of COVID, over 460 North Dakotans have died - alone, drowning in their own mucus. We have seen leaders at all levels refuse to believe science. We have seen Burgum's office continue to massage the COVID test results to portray a false positivity rate - instead of using the gold standard of John Hopkins. We have seen Burgum continue to change his own criteria and guidance when positivity rates should have meant a shutdown or decrease in public gathering sizes. In the latest admission of failure, North Dakota will no longer conduct COVID contact tracing and instead leave it up to the infected person to contact people.
Being a leader means that one will most likely need to make an unpopular decision, even if it is for the good of the people. North Dakota has been failed by its leaders. I hope the people remember this when voting.
Stewart lives in Bismarck.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.