COVID-19 Updates for Wednesday, March 18

Last updated at 2:47 p.m. CST.

Sanford Health confirmed that as of 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the community.

However, Minnesota Department of Health officials have said it’s safe to assume the disease is spreading in communities even without confirmed cases. MDH confirmed today that there are now 77 cases of COVID-19 in the state, up 17 from yesterday’s announcement.

MDH officials say that if you are sick, stay home for seven days, with three of those days being fever-free without the help of fever-reducing medications.

If you are having serious symptoms, and have been exposed to a person confirmed to have COVID-19/ traveled to an area of widespread community transmission of COVID-19, call your primary care doctor. That way, healthcare workers can implement proper triage protocols before you arrive to avoid the spread of the disease.


Bemidji School District Food Service stated today that they are opening up eligibility for children in the area to receive meals.

An opt-in form is available on the district’s website. Food service staff confirmed today that if a preschool aged child or younger has an older sibling in the district, they will also be able to receive meals.

“No child will be turned away for a meal,” said Tammie Collie, Bemidji Schools’ Food Service coordinator.

The Community Table will serve sack-type dinners from 5 to 6 p.m. today, Wednesday, March 18, and tomorrow, Thursday, March 19, at the United Methodist Church. Meals must be eaten off site.

The United Way of Bemidji Area’s Backpack Buddies program has been available to BiCAP Head Start students. BiCAP nutrition coordinator Hannah Seiberg says that they are moving forward with providing sack lunches to enrolled Head Start students.

Denae Alamano, executive director of the Bemidji United Way, said today that food will be available to any child who needs it.

Ruby’s Pantry will not do a food distribution today at the Sanford Center.

The Bemidji Community Food Shelf will be closed Fridays, starting this Friday, March 20. They will be open Mondays and Wednesdays, and will deliver pre-packaged boxes of food to customer cars in the north parking lot. For those who usually ride the bus to the food shelf, call (218)444-6580 to see if another delivery arrangement is possible.

Minnesota Nice Cafe is offering bag lunches for area children for $2 each.

The Bemidji Senior Center will offer curbside meal pickup at the backdoor Mondays through Fridays, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Call the senior center at 444-3987. Suggested donation is between $5 and $8.40 for seniors.

While restaurants and taverns’ dining rooms have been closed per executive order by Governor Tim Walz, several are offering take-out. Find more information via this Facebook group.


Travis Guida, from Character Challenge, has created another Facebook group to help the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

“The premise and purpose of the group is to help those who have a weakened immune system and are not able to get out to get groceries and other important supplies. While the response on Facebook has been solid, I fear the majority of people who could use the service or not on social media,” said Guida.

Guida can be reached at (218)760-8442.


Workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will have full access to unemployment benefits per executive order by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on Monday. The executive order makes applicants eligible for unemployment benefits if:

  • A healthcare professional or health authority recommended or ordered them to avoid contact with others.
  • The worker has been ordered to stay away from their workplace due to an outbreak of communicable disease.
  • The worker has received notification from a school district, daycare, or other childcare provider that either classes are canceled or the applicant’s ordinary childcare is unavailable, provided that the applicant made reasonable effort to obtain other childcare and requested time off, or other accommodation from the employer and no reasonable accommodation is available.

The executive order waives the non-payable or “waiting” week to ensure applicants have access to unemployment benefits as quickly as possible. View more information at Unemployment Insurance’s website.


To view previous cancellation announcements, start with this article.

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Tribal Council voted unanimously to voluntarily close their four gaming operations: Cedar Lake Casino in Cass Lake, Northern Lights Casino in Walker, White Oak Casino in Deer River and Shingobee on the Bay in Walker. Che We Office Supply will also close, by 4 p.m. today. The temporary closure will last at least through April 1.

The Whitetail Banquet, previously scheduled for Saturday, March 28, has been cancelled. A new date has yet to be announced.

Bemidji Community Theater’s production of “Treasure Island” has been postponed, with performance dates tentatively set for May 1-3, May 9-10. School matinees will be available May 5 and May 7. Schools and groups will need to contact Mary Knox Johnson. For those who have purchased tickets: you can consider purchase a donation to BCT and get a tax receipt; you can exchange the ticket for a voucher good for any show for the remainder of this season or the next; or you can receive a refund. Staff will be at BCT on 316 Beltrami Ave. NW today and tomorrow, and next week from Tuesday through Thursday, from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Watermark Art Center has submitted these cancellations:

  • Featured Artist Patty Lovegreen – March 21
  • Opening Reception for “The Unchosen Ones”, artist RJ Kern – April 3
  • Opening Reception for High School Invitational – April 4
  • Closing Reception for Natalia Himmirska – April 24

Any changes regarding rescheduling will be posted on their website and social media platforms.

As First Friday Art Walk is a community event and scheduled for dates outside of Governor Walz’s current Executive Order, WAC will continue to post information that we receive, from participating venues, to our FFAW website page.

Watermark is currently closed to the general public with plans to resume normal hours on March 30.

The Bemidji Lions Club won’t be holding their weekly Wednesday noon meeting at the Eagles Club until further notice. A decision to hold their next fundraiser, Flapjack Days scheduled for April 23rd will be made soon.

Clearwater County submitted this release:

The COVID-19 Pandemic Virus will continue to impact the population of Clearwater County and due to the significant disruption of public services essential to the health and wellbeing of the citizens of Clearwater County, precautions related to the COVID-19 virus will include limiting foot traffic in the Clearwater County Courthouse. We will be providing Driver’s License Service to Clearwater County residents only, we are encouraging email and telephone calls to our County Departments instead of foot traffic. Tax payers are encouraged to pay property taxes by mail. Clearwater County Commissioner feel these precautions will allow us to continue to provide services and protect the health and wellbeing of county staff and residence. The Clearwater County Commissioners will continue to evaluate how services are provided in the county.


© 2020 HBI Radio Bemidji, LLC d/b/a Paul Bunyan Broadcasting 502 Beltrami Ave NW, Bemidji, MN 56601 This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area