BEMIDJI -- The coronavirus has become more widespread in northern Minnesota, with several counties in the region confirming positive cases, including four in Beltrami County.
According to Beltrami County Public Health Director Cynthia Borgen, two of the individuals who've tested positive traveled across the country, while another traveled internationally. Concerning the fourth case, Borgen said the individual had no out-of-state travel history, but wasn't in Beltrami County for a time.
"The individual was, as far as we know, residing in another county for a period of time, but has now returned to Beltrami County," Borgen said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the state had 629 cases, 12 deaths, and 288 patients who no longer need to be self-isolated. In the northern section of the state, along with Beltrami, counties with positive cases include Cass, Carlton, Clay, Clearwater, Itasca, Mahnomen, Otter Tail, St. Louis and Wilkin.
In Clearwater, a county with an estimated population of 8,818, MDH shows two confirmed cases of COVID-19. According to Marissa Hetland, Clearwater County Public Health administrator, officials are doubling down on informing the public.
"We're going to continue doing that outreach and education to the community, it's one of the most important things for Clearwater County," Hetland said.
In Beltrami County, Borgen said the Public Health office is doing its best to support the governor's orders, with most of the staff working from home.
"We're also working really hard to stay coordinated," Borgen said. "Right now, we're operating on what would be called a 'unified command' between Public Health and Emergency Management. We're also working very closely with Sanford to make sure we're covering all of our bases."
In addition to social distancing and entities working in sync, Borgen said steps are being taken to set up alternate places for care.
"We're looking right now to make sure we have places for individuals to go," Borgen said. "Considering the state and national modeling, we're looking at having a lot more cases. So, we are exploring all sorts of facilities around the area, and at the same time ways of staffing those facilities. We're building our plans from there."
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