Good to see Minnesota has mandated that its citizens must wear masks in public places. It should also happen now in North Dakota.

There are 29 states and counting with such mandates. New coronavirus cases are soaring throughout the U.S., including North Dakota and Minnesota. North Dakota is hitting record highs for active cases. The country is setting record daily highs for new infections. The U.S. has 4% of the world’s population, but an astounding 26% of the world’s coronavirus cases.

What we’re doing now to prevent the virus is not nearly enough. All we have to do is look to our neighbors to the north to see the difference tighter restrictions can make. Manitoba, which has about twice the population of North Dakota, has had 366 cases and seven deaths. North Dakota has had more than 5,300 cases and 96 deaths.

Despite the encouragement, many people around here are not wearing masks. I see that in local stores and other businesses. I recently took two family cars to two different car dealerships in Fargo to be serviced. At one dealership, I was delighted to see the service department employees all wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. At the other dealership, none of the service department employees dealing directly with customers were wearing masks. When I picked up my car at that dealership, I had to ask the attendant I was working with to put on a mask. I will not be going back to that dealership again.

At local restaurants, where we sometimes go for takeout orders, some employees working at the front desk wear masks, and some don’t. I won’t go back to the restaurants that don’t.

I recently made a quick trip to Bismarck. The employees working at the front desk at the hotel I stayed at did not wear masks. I will not be staying there again. I also went to a busy convenience store in Bismarck. I saw about 30 customers come in, and I was horrified that not one of them was wearing a mask. Nor were the employees there.

Not wearing a mask is foolish and selfish. The virus is transmitted by human interaction. Masks help prevent that transmission.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, says if we all wore masks, the coronavirus could be under control in one or two months. We could be on our way to fully opening our schools and businesses. We could be on our way to attending concerts and football games.

Please don’t say you are losing your freedom if you’re mandated to wear a mask. Governments have the right to tell you what to do in the name of public safety. They tell you how fast you can drive, not to drink or text and drive, to wear seatbelts, to walk through metal detectors, and not to smoke in public places.

The fact is, many people will only wear masks if they are required to do so, or face penalties. Regardless of what the governments order, please wear a mask.