BISMARCK, ND — For the third time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, North Dakota’s top public health officer resigned. Dr. Paul Mariani resigned Friday, the day after Gov. Doug Burgum rescinded a public health order that required close contacts of those who tested positive for COVID-19 to quarantine. The order, in place for a single day, put North Dakota in line with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Burgum rescinded the order after pressure from North Dakota Republican leadership.
Dem-NPL gubernatorial candidate Dr. Shelley Lenz, a veterinarian, recently introduced a collaborative COVID-19 Crisis Management plan based on best public health practices. It emphasizes non-political decision-making.
Burgum’s move follows a pattern of inconsistent leadership and a public message that does not match facts that come to light.
- Vern Dosch, the North Dakota Contract Tracing Administrator, recently said there is a “total disconnect” between public and private communication around hospital capacity as beds fill up.
- The governor also has routinely refused to raise the COVID-19 risk level for state and individual counties, regardless of whether they meet the state’s own criteria.
- An Associated press investigation showed on the same day Gov. Burgum visited President Trump and publicly all-but declared victory over the virus and economic collapse, he emailed staff privately saying “our house is on fire” and pressed a “sense of urgency and action.”
The Democratic-NPL Party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen said:
“As many North Dakotans have died from COVID-19 this month as in the first four months of the pandemic, and our hospitals are feeling it. Gov. Burgum has routinely ignored criticism and public health experts while trying to paint a rosy picture during his re-election campaign. He must give North Dakotans the unvarnished truth we’re demanding and that we need to make safe decisions to protect our families and communities. His governing is becoming more opaque and erratic at a time when North Dakotans need transparency and focus.”