North Dakota experiences
Larry, Darryl & Darryl resurgence

It’s rude, but every now and then it has to be said: “Told you so.” 

Such is the case today, as The New York Times reports, “September was by far the deadliest month for North Dakota since the start of the (coronavirus) pandemic.” 

The teaser under the headline for the story, titled “The Virus Surges in North Dakota, Filling Hospitals and Testing Attitudes,” reads, “As Covid-19 cases grow in the Great Plains, one official said residents need to know ‘how perilously close we are to the edge.’”

Even as North Dakota is at the top of the charts with the highest infection rate per 100,000 in population (Oct. 7,2020), Gov. Doug Burgum continues to push back against any suggestions that a mask mandate is in order, just as he downplayed any need to issue a stay-at-home order at the beginning of the pandemic. Following “president” Trump’s lead.

Instead, he consistently calls for “individual responsibility,” saying every North Dakota citizen should wear a mask in public to protect themselves and others, and that we can rely on our neighbors to do the right thing.

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Here’s the “Told you so” bit.

On April 7, IV Words called Burgum’s plan, one that city and county officials emulated, the “Larry, his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl” approach to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The TV sitcom characters made a second appearance on April 28, when Burgum held a press conference to announce the lifting of restrictions on businesses that he’d declared just a few weeks before. And they’ve been present but unnamed in numerous IV Words posts about coronavirus since then.

Photo of "Newhart" characters Larry, Darryl & Darryl for coronavirus post

The Larry, Darryl and Darryl posts were tongue-in-cheek, but with the very serious point that we could not rely on our fellow citizens to do the right thing, to take precautions outlined by health officials and scientists, like staying home as much as possible and wearing masks in public.

Turns out a sizable percentage of North Dakotans are like the characters from the hit CBS comedy “Newhart.” They can be amusing, in a backwards-ass, bumbling, redneck sort of way, but they aren’t all that bright. 

So it’s been over these many months of the pandemic in North Dakota. 

Not too bright.

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Packed bars and restaurants. Few people wear masks in public. Many of the anti-maskers get livid and some get violent when anyone suggests that they should. It’s business and play as usual. The pre-Covid usual, that is.

This is today’s North Dakota.

It’s hard for people who know better to reconcile.

My wife is an RN who for many months was a charge nurse on her hospital’s Covid-19 ward. She watched people struggle mightily for breath, recognized the fear in their faces when they realized they would die alone, only seeing people they love one more time through telephone screens, and cared for Covidiots who traveled to Sturgis, S.D., for the annual biker rally and didn’t wear masks. Her reaction to reports of new coronavirus and Covid-19 cases is consistent: “This was predictable and preventable.”

All thanks to the state’s many versions of Larry, Darryl and Darryl, not to mention Trump, Burgum and city/county elected officials who refused to take the actions necessary to protect their citizens. 

Gov. Doug Burgum’s North Dakota:
The nation’s highest rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 in population (Oct. 7, 2020).

Burgum calls the state’s approach to coronavirus a “Smart Restart.” But when the state has the highest cases-to-100,000-people rate in the nation, smart is not the word that comes to mind.

So, yeah. Told you so.

Was that rude?

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Actually, comparing Larry, Darryl and Darryl to that sizable percentage of North Dakotans is a bit of a disservice. 

To Larry, Darryl and Darryl. 

The TV characters had a strong sense of right and wrong, they always showed concern for their fellow human beings and they behaved in ways that at least would do their neighbors no harm.

So how’s that individual responsibility working out?


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

Black outlined graphic indicating copyright 2020 Martin C. Fredricks IV

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