Itasca County confirms third and fourth cases of COVID-19

Itasca County has confirmed its third and fourth cases of COVID-19. According to a release, one case is an employee from an area skilled nursing facility, called “The Emeralds” in Grand Rapids, and another is an employee from an area group home owned by the Orion Corporation.

According to Marc Halpert, Chief Operating Officer for Monarch Healthcare Management, the company that operates The Emeralds at Grand Rapids, “We are able to confirm that one staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The employee does not have any symptoms and has not had any contact with residents or staff since finding out her family member tested positive. Once finding this out, the employee was very responsible and stayed out of the facility. At this time, no other staff members, nor residents, have any symptoms nor tested positive.”
According to Michael Sarafolean, President of Orion Corporation of Minnesota, the company that operates the group home facility with the confirmed case, “Last Thursday evening, one of our employees notified us that she had been in close physical contact with a family member who had tested positive for COVID-19. We immediately removed the employee from the schedule and directed her to seek medical evaluation.She received confirmation Saturday night that her results were also positive.“

Both confirmed cases had contact with previously known positive cases.

Kelly Chandler, Itasca County Public Health Division Manager, reports, “We have been in contact with the facilities where the cases were confirmed to discuss their protocols, further recommended testing and personal protective equipment needs.We’ll continue to provide support to them as needed.”The community should continue to take proper precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the most susceptible and vulnerable community members.

“We strongly encourage you to wear a cloth mask when in public, ensuring that you are covering your nose and mouth. Please stay home whenever you can and continue to practice social distancing when you must leave your home!” continues Chandler.

Grand Itasca President and CEO Jean MacDonell says,“We understand the peace of mind that a test result brings and are happy to significantly expand our testing criteria to include all symptomatic patients with underlying medical conditions. This is in addition to the testing of emergency and health care workers, childcare providers and those with known exposure to positive COVID-19 patients. If patients meet the criteria for testing, they should call our appointment line at 218-326-7344 to schedule a telephone visit for a curbside COVID-19 test.”


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, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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