BEMIDJI -- In just a week the number of coronavirus cases actively tracked by Beltrami County has gone from two to 22.
Christopher Muller, director of Beltrami County Emergency Management, said on top of the current number of active cases, there's also a large number of pending tests. Megan Heuer, the county's family health manager, added that lately the number of cases has been changing about three times per day.
As a result of the rising COVID-19 numbers, several area businesses, especially in the food service industry, have opted to either close their doors temporarily or increase safety measures.
According to Muller, misinformation was spreading that the county had made the order for establishments to close, which is false.
"We saw last evening that there was some misinformation that people were spreading on social media that the county had closed bars in the county," Muller said. "That's not true. However, a number of businesses have made the decision on their own to close and clean as a precaution. That was all voluntary."
Establishments announcing their plans to either close or make adjustments via social media posts include:
- Brigid's Pub, which announced Friday that it will remain open, but take the action of further restricting the dining room capacity. Additionally, the Irish pub will encourage patio dining or takeout, as well as recommend those who do go inside to wear a mask.
- Cantabria Coffee Co. had to close this week as someone who tested positive was in recent contact with a staff member. As of Friday, Cantabria remained closed heading into the weekend and the entire staff has been tested while the shop has been cleaned.
- Corner Bar on Facebook announced Thursday that a thorough cleaning was done with the recent increase in cases. The establishment is still open.
- Giovanni's announced Thursday on social media that it would temporarily suspend its buffet service.
- Hard Times Inc., a bar in downtown Bemidji, announced it would be closed as the owner waits on results for a COVID-19 test.
- Fozzie's Smokin Bar B Q announced Wednesday that it had opted to close, noting that staff may have been in contact with others who tested positive for COVID-19.
- The Holiday gas station at 1106 Paul Bunyan Drive had to close Tuesday, July 7, for deep cleaning after learning an employee had a confirmed case of COVID-19.
- The Holiday gas station at 414 Paul Bunyan Drive had to temporarily close Wednesday and will remain closed until Monday. A statement from the company noted that the closure wasn't due to COVID-19 exposure, but rather the staff from the 414 Paul Bunyan Drive location would be supporting the Holiday at 1106 Paul Bunyan Drive.
- Keg N' Cork announced on social media Thursday that it had decided to remain closed until further notice as it waits for pending tests.
- Lazy Jack's announced that it would be closed for the weekend on Facebook.
- Ruzy's Bar and Grill announced on Friday that it would be closed until further notice.
- Schummer's Backwoods Bar and Grill announced Thursday it would close until further notice, with a plan of evaluating when to reopen on Monday.
With cases inclining, Heuer said the county health department is encouraging the public to also take action on mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.
"We really want to emphasize precautions that we've all heard many times before," Heuer said. "Truly, people need to use hand hygiene, stay home if you're not feeling well, wear a mask when you're out in public and keep physical distance."