GOP governor in North Dakota gives emotional plea against 'mask shaming'

“If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support,” said Republican Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota.
Image: Doug Burgum
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., on March 27, 2020.Mike McCleary / The Bismarck Tribune via AP

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By Nicole Acevedo

Republican Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota issued an emotional plea for residents of his state to avoid "ideological or political" divides on the choice to wear face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support,” Burgum said during a press conference on Friday.

The governor's voice began breaking with emotion as he went on to say that people might wear a face mask "because they’ve got a 5-year-old child who’s been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults in their life who currently have COVID, and they’re fighting.”

Burgum's plea comes as protests against coronavirus-related restrictions continue in some states around the country.

“I would really love to see in North Dakota that we could just skip this thing that other parts of the nation are going through where they’re trading a divide — either it’s ideological or political or something — around masks versus no mask," said Burgum. “This is a — I would say — senseless dividing line, and I would ask people to try to dial up your empathy and your understanding.”

"If somebody wants to wear a mask, there should be no mask shaming. You should look at them and say, 'That person is wearing a mask because for them there's additional risk in their life.' This is not a disease that spreads risk equally," he added.