After more than 30 minutes of discussion surrounding a mask mandate, the Fargo City Commission has decided that a mask mandate will not move forward for further discussion for the immediate future.
Fargo City Commissioner John Strand and City Attorney Erik Johnson had drafted a pair of mask mandates--one with a penalty and one without--and the mandates were presented to the commission for the first time at their regular meeting on Monday night. With both similar in nature, the lone difference was simply the penalty, which is likened to being similar to a traffic citation. Strand, who brought the mask discussion to the Fargo City Commission in late July, told those gathered Monday night that the initial discussion was for a directive--asking the people to participate and cooperate, which was passed. The directive expires November 9.
Thus the discussion ensued at Monday's commission meeting.
"I want us all to know that this discussion, here tonight, a lot of folks think we're voting up or down a mask mandate tonight," Strand said. "What we're really doing, if it goes forward, is opening the door to have this tool available, basically a month from now, if it's needed then."
Strand made a motion to receive and file an ordinance, with penalties, relating to the face coverings -- and also to place the item on the October 19 agenda for first reading. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Arlette Preston.
Preston was more adamant in her comments following the motion regarding masks.
"The number of positive cases we have in our community is the highest it has probably ever been," she said. Preston went on to cite higher numbers of hospitalizations and deaths as another concern she has regarding COVID-19.
She then went on to talk about masks and the fact that there is a 'lot of support locally' for masks providing protection. Fellow commissioner, Dave Piepkorn, told Preston that he is "just as protected as you are wearing that mask of COVID-19."
In the end, Commissioners voted 3-2 against forwarding Strand's proposal to the next commission meeting for first reading. Mayor Dr. Tim Mahoney, Piepkorn and Tony Gehrig voted against it.