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Rock star Peter Frampton, thousands on social media blast Fargo city commissioner over mask comments

Anti-mask comments from Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn are going viral after a journalist from Vox tweeted it out.

Frampton and Piepkorn.jpg
Rock star Peter Frampton, left, in 1980 joined others on social media blasting Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn for saying masks aren't effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19. File photos

FARGO — Peter Frampton clearly doesn't love Dave Piepkorn's way. The British '70s rocker is among thousands blasting the Fargo city commissioner and deputy mayor after comments Piepkorn made at an Oct.. 5 City Commission meeting went viral.

Fargo City Commissioner's comment "masks don't work" goes viral.

The commission was looking at whether the city should implement a mask mandate .

The Fargo City Commission voted 3-2 on Oct. 5 to reject consideration of two proposed mask mandate options, one with a civil penalty and another without.

Fargo Mayor Dr. Tim Mahoney cast the deciding vote on Oct. 5 against the mandate, saying it was an emotional issue and he believed it would tear the city apart.


However, at the City Commission meeting Oct. 19, Mahoney reversed course, issuing a mayoral mask mandate within the city of Fargo utilizing his emergency powers.

Breaking News: Mayor Mahoney issues mask mandate

Commissioner Tony Gehrig had opposed the mask mandate because he thought there would be "violent interactions" erupting in the city if such a mandate was imposed.

The earlier decision left commissioners John Strand and Arlette Preston, a registered nurse, concerned about not having another "tool in the toolbox" if the virus continues its attack on city residents. The new mandate is in effect immediately, but does not carry a penalty for noncompliance.

The Oct. 5 meeting might have been put to rest, but Vox Journalist Aaron Ruper found it and started tweeting about it over the past weekend. At this point, his tweet with video has been viewed more than one million times.

Other news organizations like "The Daily Beast" also picked it up. Celebrities including Richard Marx and Peter Frampton weighed in.


Others on social media didn't miss the opportunity to make reference to the movie "Fargo."

The uproar comes not just from Piepkorn's views on masks, claiming that he, without a mask, is "just as protected as you are wearing that mask from COVID-19."

When people who disagreed with him started shouting at him from the back of the commission room, he wasn't having any of it.


Others pointed out that Fargo is going in the wrong direction.

Piepkorn had a few defenders on social media, citing the early reluctance to wear masks. While both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization now recommend cloth masks for the general public, early in the pandemic, both organizations recommended just the opposite. These shifting guidelines may have sown confusion among the public about the utility of masks.


What convinced the CDC to change its guidance in favor of masks were rising disease prevalence and a clearer understanding that both pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission are possible – even common. Studies have found that viral load peaks in the days before symptoms begin and that speaking is enough to expel virus-carrying droplets. They also show that masks are effective in blocking the virus.

So do Piepkorn's views on masks give the city a black eye?

Some are tweeting they won't hold his views against the city.

Charley Johnson, with the Fargo Moorhead Convention and Visitor's Bureau, says he doesn't see any upside in commenting on any individual politician's stand on the mask issue. He says in the past couple of weeks, the FMCVB has moved from recommending masks for travelers who come into the Visitor Center to requiring them, and as of Monday, Oct. 19, are asking staff members to wear masks when they move about the common office areas as well. He says most businesses in the area are following the same model, including the major hotel chains.

"Even if you think wearing a mask only helps a little, it seems fundamentally wise to err on the side of caution," Johnson said, adding that from a visitor standpoint, the bottom line is very few people are traveling at all unless they have to. He says the situation won’t change until the pandemic is brought under control through containment or a vaccine is released.


"In the meantime, people who operate and work for businesses in the hospitality and small business sectors are fighting for their professional lives and could use some no-strings-attached help from their local, state and national leaders to get through it," Johnson said.

Piepkorn declined to do an interview because he was heading into a City Commission meeting. However, he said, "I love Peter Frampton!" And later added, "I would not rely on him for medical advice."

Tracy Briggs is an Emmy-nominated News, Lifestyle and History reporter with Forum Communications with more than 35 years of experience, in broadcast, print and digital journalism.
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