Situation Update for Monday, March 23

Posted at 9:33 a.m. Updated at 8:10 p.m.

Featured photo: The Minnesota Department of Health’s case map as of Sunday, March 22, showing one case in Cass County.

This article will be updated throughout the day as more information becomes available. For more information, view the COVID-19 category on the home page. For local recommendations, view Beltrami County’s COVID-19 information hub.

STATE UPDATES

The Minnesota Department of Health as of 11 a.m. today confirmed 235 positive cases of novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease,  in the state.

So far, there has been one death, which was confirmed Saturday. The MDH is no longer listing the number of patients tested on their situation update web page.

Gov. Tim Walz is in self-isolation after one of his security team members was confirmed to have contracted the contagious virus.

“The most important thing Minnesotans can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home,” said Gov. Walz.

“I’m using this as an opportunity to lead by example. Though I’m feeling healthy and not showing any symptoms, I’m going to work from home and model the protocol we are asking all Minnesotans to follow.”

According to a release, a member of Gov. Walz’s security detail tested positive for COVID-19 late Sunday night. Gov. Walz learned of this individual’s diagnosis early this morning and has not left the house since.

Gov. Tim Walz joined today’s MDH press conference call at 2 p.m. He issued four new executive orders today, but a shelter in place order was not one of them. Learn more about today’s conference call here.


Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan announced on Instagram that her older brother, who lived in Tennessee, died from complications of COVID-19.

View this post on Instagram

Almost exactly two months after we buried our dad, my brother Ron passed away on Saturday. To many, he’ll be a statistic: Tennessee’s second COVID-related death. But to me, I’ll remember a loving, older brother, uncle, father, and husband. Ron was a tough-as-nails Marine who was a big teddy bear on the inside. He never left my dad’s side during his final weeks and took care of everyone else in the way only he could. His politics didn’t match mine AT ALL (and we joked about it constantly) but Ron was a very good man who had an amazing capacity to love. I miss him dearly. Several weeks ago, Ron was diagnosed with cancer. His immune system was compromised and he contracted COVID-19. He was put in a medically induced coma and placed on a ventilator. He fought it as hard as he could but it was simply too much for his body. THIS is why we must #StayHome If you feel fine, that’s great. But please consider the possibility that you’re carrying the virus and don’t know it, and then you walk past the next Ron, my big brother, in public. COVID-19 now has a personal connection to me. Please do all you can to prevent one for you. #StayHomeMN

A post shared by Peggy Flanagan (@peggyflanagan) on

Another high profile Minnesotan, John Bessler, Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s husband, is reportedly hospitalized for COVID-19, according to a release from Klobuchar’s office.

“While this is his story and not mine, I wanted to let my colleagues and constituents know that since John and I have been in different places for the last two weeks and I am outside the 14-day period for getting sick, my doctor has advised me to not get a test,” said Klobuchar in a statement.

“As everyone is aware, there are test shortages for people who need them everywhere and I don’t qualify to get one under any standard.”

Case map as of Monday, March 23. Darker blue counties have the most cases, where light green counties have the fewest.

Gov. Walz signed an executive order Saturday night authorizing the National Guard to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) across the state.

“In times of need, Minnesotans pull together to make sure we have the resources and supplies we need to get through challenges,” said Gov.Walz.

“Minnesota’s hospitals, health care facilities, and first responders are in desperate need of personal protective equipment, and I’m grateful to have the Minnesota National Guard’s partnership in delivering these supplies for Minnesotans.”

Activation of the Minnesota National Guard has already begun and is active through the duration of the COVID-19 peacetime emergency.

To view previous executive orders by Gov. Tim Walz, a list of them as of Friday is available at this article. 

DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES

Under the Governor’s Emergency Executive Order 20-12, the Minnesota Department of Human Services has temporary authority to waive or modify requirements so that the agency and its partners can continue to provide essential programs and services to Minnesotans safely and without undue delay during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A list of all waivers and modifications currently in effect is posted at the DHS website. It will be updated as necessary.

LOCAL UPDATES

Sanford Health announced today that they have created their own test, approved by the Food and Drug Administration, that will allow them to process tests in their laboratories in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

According to a release, they will be able to process 400 tests per day, with plans to double that capacity within weeks.

Read more about it here.

OTHER UPDATES
  • The Bemidji Public Library says their hotspot is available for people who need it, even though they are closed. The WiFi is called “KRLS Patron” and there is no password.
  • According to Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht, the first hour of shopping for most local stores has been reserved for the elderly and immunocompromised, and asks that other citizens refrain from shopping at that time.
  • The Bemidji Municipal Liquor stores have adjusted their hours. Lakeview Liquor on the south part of town is closed Sunday, and will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. First City Liquor will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
  • Community Table will serve sack type dinners from 5 to 6 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays at Mt. Zion Church and Wednesdays and Thursdays at United Methodist Church. Sack type dinners will be provided to be eaten off-site.
  • Ruby’s Pantry was closed for March, but Mayor Albrecht says there is one tentatively scheduled for April 15 at the Sanford Center.
  • Greater Bemidji will work with businesses who need Small Business Administration’s (sba.gov) emergency assistance program.
  • LaunchPad is closed.
  • City of Bemidji is exploring ways they can use their revolving loan fund to help business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent executive orders from the governor’s office.
  • Lake Bemidji State Park officials say that even though their offices and visitor centers are closed, visitors will still need a parking pass to enter the park with their vehicles. Daily and annual parking permits are available through the DNR’s website.

Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota currently has no need for homemade masks. Susan Jarvis, president of the northern Minnesota hospital system, said that she was touched by the community’s offers, but says at this time, they do not need them, and doesn’t want people to waste their time, money and talents on them.

Read more here.

Sanford Bemidji confirmed today that as of this morning, 35 COVID-19 tests have been administered. None of them have been confirmed positive.

From the United Way:

The United Way of Bemidji Area is now accepting applications from local nonprofit human service agencies for its Emergency Fund.

The purpose of the United Way of Bemidji Area Emergency Fund is to support local nonprofits with unexpected expenses due to COVID-19.

These funds will support access to food, emergency needs, care to the elderly and most vulnerable in our community, and other unexpected expenses due to service disruptions and/or increased demand for services.

Grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis, with all funds raised to date to be distributed by April 30th, 2020.  Immediate needs will be addressed within one week and secondary needs will be addressed by the end of April.

Agencies may apply more than once for funds, especially for immediate needs. Applications and guidelines can be found at UnitedWayBemidji.org/Emergency-Fund-Application.

United Way Worldwide has waived their 1% fee for any local United Ways hosting emergency funds related to COVID-19. One hundred percent of donations will go to local charitable organizations helping those impacted by this health crisis throughout the Bemidji area.

To support the United Way of Bemidji Area Emergency Fund, visit UnitedWayBemidji.org/GIVE or call United Way at (218) 444-8929.


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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