Coronavirus Update for Saturday, March 21

Posted at 12:01 p.m. Updated at 1:27 p.m.

Featured photo: Northern Elementary students taped thank you cards in the windows for healthcare workers at Sanford Bemidji. 

This article will be updated throughout the day as the latest information becomes available. These are breaking news stories. For the previous day’s announcements, start with this article. 


The Minnesota Department of Health reported the first confirmed death of a Minnesota resident due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

A Ramsey County resident in their 80s died Thursday, March 19. According to the MDH release, the patient tested positive for COVID-19 recently, and the victim contracted the virus through contact with another COVID-19 case.

“Gwen and I extend our deepest sympathies to the loved ones during this time of loss,” said Governor Tim Walz. “As COVID-19 continues to spread in Minnesota, we must all do what we can to keep each other safe.”

Case map as of 11 a.m. Saturday, March 21. Photo courtesy of MDH.

“My heart is with the family, friends, and neighbors who are grieving,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “This loss is deeply felt by our entire community. Now more than ever, each of us must do our part to prevent the spread of this virus, especially to our most vulnerable Minnesotans.”

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said the death underscores the importance of protecting our most vulnerable Minnesotans during the outbreak.

“Our condolences go out to the family and friends of the patient,” Commissioner Malcolm said. “We’ve all seen reports of outbreak-related deaths in other states and countries, but this Minnesota death reminds us how important it is to continue working to protect each other during this outbreak.”

To date, there are 138 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the case, with St. Louis County being the farthest north. Twenty-six of Minnesota’s 87 counties have at least one confirmed case of the contagious disease.

Over 4,000 cases have been tested at the MDH laboratories.

Since the outbreak started in December 2019, more than 284,000 cases and 11,800 deaths have been reported worldwide. The U.S. reported 19,624 cases and 260 deaths as of this morning.


Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota confirmed Friday, March 20, that there are no positive cases of COVID-19 in the network of hospitals in our region.

Students from Northern Elementary surprised Sanford staff Thursday, March 19, by drawing and taping signs of encouragement and support during the COVID-19 pandemic to the outside windows of the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center.


Beltrami County has established a new website as a central hub of information for local information on resources.

“Beltrami County’s coordinated response to the COVID-19 Pandemic continues,” said Public Health coordinator Cynthia Borgen. “To better serve our citizens and provide ease of access to local Public Health, Emergency Management and governmental information along with MDH, CDC and other sources of information, we have launched the Beltrami County COVID-19 Hub.”

Auditor-Treasurer JoDee Treat encourages residents to use online or by-mail options for the license center. More information is avaialble on the License Center website.

From Sheriff Ernie Bietel:

“As Beltrami County Sheriff, I want to reassure you that the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and all of our community partners are working tirelessly to make sure we are meeting the needs of the community, keeping you safe and keeping you accurately informed.”

  • The Beltrami County Jail would like to alert all community members due to the current pandemic of COVID 19 the Minnesota Department of Corrections has cancelled in person visits.  
  • Effective immediately, Beltrami County Jail is suspending all in-person or lobby visits until further notice.  Electronic visiting methods are currently being explored
  • Video Visitation: at this time you may go to  and continue to visit from home.  The fee to visit has be lowered drastically from .39 cents per minute to .25 cents per minute. 
  • Phone Calls: You may purchase phone cards for your person who is in custody.  Go to
  • For questions about court, please call: 218-333-4120
  • For questions about warrants please visit:
  • If you have a court case scheduled at a Beltrami County District Court location between March 16, 2020 and March 30, 2020 call (218) 333-4120 to determine if your case will be heard or scheduled to a future date. Click here to learn more.

From Solid Waste:

Beltrami County Transfer Stations and Drop Off Site will remain open.

  • Limited assistance will be available at the transfer station lanes in order to maintain social distancing of 6 feet between public and attendants.
  • Max of 2 vehicles per lane will be allowed in express lane at any one time.
  • Max of 1 vehicles will be allowed in commercial tipping floor at any one time.
  • Please bring all household garbage and recycling in tied garbage/waste bags.

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