FARGO — Congratulations to the two newest members of the North Dakota COVID-19 Hall of Shame! They are Rep. Jeff Hoverson, R-Minot, and Rep. Sebastian Ertelt, R-Lisbon.

Hoverson and Ertelt brazenly defied rules of the North Dakota Legislature by refusing to wear masks in the House chamber during the Legislature’s organizational session. This came even after they received a warning about the rule from Speaker of the House Kim Koppelman. Ertelt and Hoverson were rightfully told to leave the chamber, which they did.

It was inexcusable and dangerous for Hoverson and Ertelt not to wear masks. Members of the Legislature must follow their own rules. Also, they put their fellow legislators at risk of catching the coronavirus by not wearing their masks.

Hoverson’s disobedience followed a clueless email he sent to his fellow legislators about the mask rule. It said, “If you vote to force me to wear a mask, you will have put me in a position to a. perpetuate what I think is a lie: and what I consider has become an idol. b. misrepresent my district and the people I serve … I plan to give them hope, by presenting myself as the truth, science, and facts guide me.”

Hoverson’s comments are absurd. Truth and science tell us that wearing masks significantly reduces the risk of getting or transmitting the coronavirus. Also, I doubt he is representing his district. Surveys show that North Dakotans are overwhelmingly in favor of a mask mandate. Moreover, as of Wednesday, Dec. 16, Ward County, where Hoverson is from, has had more deaths from COVID-19 than any other county in the state. Mind you, Ward County is less than half the size of Cass County.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

RELATED: Port: Bastiat Caucus lawmakers object to mask requirement at upcoming NDGOP meeting, suggest ignoring Bismarck's mask ordinance

Hoverson and Ertelt seem to be oblivious to the devastation COVID-19 has caused North Dakota, and the urgency to try to properly stop it. They need to be reminded that tragically, one out of about every 635 North Dakotans has died from this virus, and that one out of every eight North Dakotans has been infected.

Shame on the people who have harassed Bismarck City Attorney Janelle Combs and Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health Director Renae Moch for their handling of the coronavirus. Combs and Moch are simply doing their jobs and trying to protect the public from this deadly virus.

Combs was despicably threatened with physical harm, while some tried to get her fired. Moch was reprehensibly called “a tyrant and a Nazi.” Combs and Moch should be applauded for their outstanding job performances.

Shame also on gutless North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem for signing on to that bogus Texas lawsuit that would have overturned the results of the presidential election. Stenehjem’s disgraceful action was an assault against our democracy, system of free elections, and the will of the American people.

I am so sorry to hear of the passing of KFGO’s Bob Harris from COVID-19. I had the pleasure of working with Bob. He was a kind man, talented broadcaster, and a great guy.

Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director. Email jimshawtv@gmail.com