Republican North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said he hopes his state skips the ideological and political argument about the use of face masks during an emotional speech Friday, as the pandemic continues to severely impact parts of the United States. 

I would really love to see in North Dakota that we could just skip this thing that other parts of the nation are going through where theyre trading a divide either its ideological or political or something around masks versus no mask, said Burgum. I would say this is a senseless dividing line, and I would ask people to try to dial up your empathy and your understanding. 

Burgum, a staunch supporter of President TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: The Hill’s interview with Anthony FauciTrump’s routing number revealed as press secretary announces he’s donating quarterly salary to HHS: reportFormer White House aide won M contract to supply masks amid pandemicMORE, appears to be referring to partisan disagreements and demonstrations that have erupted across the U.S. over social distancing measures, stay-at-home orders and the use of face coverings. 

Most recently, a video of a verbal confrontation between a Costco cashier and a customer went viral after the customer refused to wear a mask at the cash register. 

In a tearful speech, Gov. @DougBurgum (R-ND) asks residents to skip the ideological and political debate on face masks. pic.twitter.com/BkTEDWxuYg

The Recount (@therecount) May 22, 2020

Trump himself has not worn a face mask when on camera in public appearances outside the White House. The president was seen not wearing a mask at a Ford plant in Michigan on Friday, despite company policies and state law. However, a photograph from the same visit later surfaced of Trump wearing a mask while talking to a Ford Motor executive.  

Critics of the president said that the decision not to wear proper protective equipment delivers the wrong message to the public. 

Burgum said that the use of face masks should not be used as a political statement and compared the use of face masks to helmets on athletes.

If someone is wearing a mask, theyre not doing it to represent what political party theyre in or what candidates they support, Burgum said as he appeared choked up.

They might be doing it because they have a 5-year-old child whos been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults who currently have [COVID-19] and are fighting.

Federal public health officials recommend only leaving home for essential activities and to wear a protective face covering while doing so.

Early studies in New York have found that essential workers who wear masks have a lower rate of infection, which could underscore the value protective equipment has in curtailing the disease.

According to the North Dakota Department of Health, as of Saturday 2,365 people in the state have tested positive for the virus and 52 have died.