UPDATED: First positive case of COVID-19 in Beltrami County

Posted at 10:50 a.m. Updated at 2:00 p.m.

Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota has confirmed its first positive case of COVID-19 in Beltrami County.

According to a release, the patient is believed to have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, while traveling internationally.

In a press conference this afternoon, Sanford officials confirmed that with their internal laboratories, they were able to get the results in 36 hours. The patient was tested Monday, from their vehicle at an alternative testing site, and results were learned this morning.

After experiencing mild symptoms, the patient used the MySanford chart immediately after returning home. The patient was tested at an alternate site the day after returning home, and has been at home since being tested.

“It is important to understand that the patient is under self-imposed isolation, not quarantine,” said Dr. David Wilcox, vice president medical officer and family medicine physician for Sanford Health.

“While isolation serves the same purpose as quarantine, it’s reserved for those who are already sick. It keeps infected people away from healthy people in order to prevent the sickness from spreading whereas a quarantine separates and restricts movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they later become sick.”

Sanford providers will continue to follow up with the patient regarding their symptoms and assess whether they may need additional care.

The patient will remain under self-isolation until they are no longer contagious. This means that they have not had a fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers), that other symptoms have improved, and at least 7 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.

“This couldn’t have gone better in terms of no community spread,” said Dr. Wilcox. “The patient was suspicious upon returning. They then isolated themselves, waited until the next business day and called us, then went through screening process.”

“They did not need to come to the clinic, they went to the remote collection site and went immediately home,” continued Dr. Wilcox.  “We turned the test around quickly in 36 hours with Sanford labs. We recently acquired the technology and FDA approval to perform COVID testing at our enterprise lab.”

Joy Johnson, vice president of operations for Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota, that there is not yet evidence of community spread.

“While we can’t say there is absolutely no chance, the patient went home and stayed there, so they didn’t expose the community.”

Minnesota Department of Health updates their case numbers each morning at 11 a.m. with all confirmations before 8 p.m. the previous day, according to Sanford officials.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa is also an active member with the Bemidji Jaycees, a leadership development through community service organization for adults 18 to 40. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her growing family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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