Governor Announces Award During “‘Smart’ Restart” Press Conference

Just three weeks after Fargo, N.D., Mayor Tim Mahoney introduced three brothers as the city’s model neighbors for responsible social distancing, North Dakota’s Republican governor has presented them with the state’s first-ever Good COVID Neighbor Award.

Larry, Darryl and “My Other Brother” Darryl Neighbors of Fargo received the award during Gov. Doug Burgum’s “North Dakota ‘Smart’ Restart” press conference on April 28, 2020, in which the governor announced he is lifting restrictions on business that were intended to slow the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19 deaths.

Burgum noted the brothers’ tireless work out in public, getting up-close and personal with people to talk about the dangers of coronavirus.

The COVID Boys
The COVID Boys (l to r): North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Darryl Neighbors, Larry Neighbors, Darryl Neighbors and Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney

We’re deeply honored,” said Larry Neighbors, the brothers’ spokesperson. “We been out there doin’ our part, rubbin’ shoulders with folks, talking about distance and spittle and what have ya, but there ain’t been many folks out there to rub shoulders with. Today, with the governor’s announcement, we’re lookin’ forward to gettin’ back out there and spreadin’ the good news to a whole lot more of our good neighbors.”

In an irony lost on everyone but the state bird, which is kept in a cramped cage in the corner of the press briefing room, Burgum’s announcement of “‘Smart’ Restart” and the award ceremony came on the same day Fargo was projected as the 14th most likely metropolitan area to become a U.S. coronavirus hotspot.

“Fourteenth place ain’t so bad,” a clearly determined Larry Neighbors said. “Once we get out an’ do some more hard work, we’ll break into the Top 10, easy. You know what that Gump fella’s mama always said: ‘Smart is as smart does.’”

Prophetic words.

As of this writing, (April 29, 2:45 p.m.), Fargo is listed 7th in the nation for the highest average daily growth rate of coronavirus cases and is 3rd for the highest average daily growth rate of COVID-19-related deaths.

COVID-19 cases chart from The New York Times
April 29: The New York Times updates these COVID-19 graphs daily. Click here to see the latest.

And, according to Newsweek, the governor’s easing of restrictions coincided “…with a resurgence of new cases in the state with 75 new cases being announced Monday, the state’s second-highest number of new cases since its previous high of 89 cases on April 18.”

No matter, the governor said, because he’d spoken to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence earlier in the day.

“The President and Vice President assured me this decision is right for the economy and maintaining my suck-up record, even if more old and health-compromised folks kick the bucket,” Burgum said. “Besides, we’re just pleased to be able to honor these three men, who are exemplary examples of the kind of civic responsibility that should make their fellow North Dakotans proud.”

Mahoney, who is also a physician, echoed Burgum, saying he was delighted to be part of the ceremony even if he was the only one wearing a mask. He also assured Fargo residents that the city will remain “in lockstep” with Burgum’s guidance. “It’s just so smart,” he said.

The Good COVID Neighbor Award comes with a check for $0.99 and matching, homemade face masks with holes left open for the brothers’ mouths.

For more information about North Dakota coronavirus/COVID-19 restrictions, “‘Smart’ Restart” or to watch a live feed of Larry, Darryl and Darryl walking Fargo neighborhoods to “spread the news,” visit


* Barry Kemp and Sheldon Bull created the characters Larry, Darryl and Darryl for the hit CBS comedy “Newhart.”

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