One year later, a look back at how COVID rocked Bemidji

It’s officially been a year since the coronavirus hit home and changed all that we knew as normal.

Zach Mitchem cleans a table at Keg n’ Cork on Monday, March 16, 2020, just before Gov. Tim Walz called for the closure of restaurants and bars to dine-in customers. Keg n’ Cork was one of the many locations in Bemidji that chose to stay open and offer to-go orders during the shutdown. (Pioneer file photo)

BEMIDJI -- It’s officially been a year since the coronavirus hit home and changed all that we knew as normal.

Words and phrases (that many of us are so tired of hearing) like pandemic, stay-at-home order, social distancing, Zoom calls and face masks, have entered into our everyday vocabulary and seem like they will never leave.

Love ones were lost, businesses struggled, careers were altered and so many other hardships endured. But, things weren’t all bad.

Some positive changes have happened locally and beyond this year, and in reflection, the Pioneer has gathered a list of important dates and special moments to highlight what the community has been through these last 12 months.

From initial problem solving and swift action by public health officials and city leaders to creativity and kindness shown by business owners, community members and educators, Bemidjians were resilient, and heroes rose to the challenge while the community rallied in ways many have never witnessed.



The following timeline of the past year tells the rest of the story:

March 2020

The United Way and Bemidji Community Food Shelf have teamed up to keep the food shelf running during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured from left on March 25: Shannon Lee, United Way of Bemidji Area director of marketing and events; Mary Mitchell, Bemidji Community Food Self executive director; and Denae Alamano, United Way of Bemidji Area executive director. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)


Paper hearts and the message “Better Together” decorate the windows of First National Bank along Paul Bunyan Drive NW. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)


Class of 2020 graduate Abby Kieson tears up as she’s driven through Bemidji High School's graduation procession on Saturday, May 23. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)


Josh Peterson and Gwen Labovitch wave to cars from the Bemidji Jaycees float as they pass by during the Grand Unparade on Sunday, July 5, in the Sanford Center parking lot. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)



Addrianna Kinn, left, and Ashley Kinn walk their cows through the pet parade on July 30 at Havenwood Care Center in Bemidji. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)


082620.N.BP.THEATER - LEAD.jpg
The Bemidji Theatre is now open, with movie showings on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)


091620.N.BP.FIRSTDAY 1.jpg
Kourtney Harkness and her son, kindergartner Beckett, speak to a Horace May staff member outside of the school on Sept. 14. Harkness said Beckett was "excited and a little nervous," for the first day of school. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)


101720.N.BP.UNITEDWAY - 2.jpg
Sanford Health volunteer Alicia Underdahl asks the number of families in a vehicle during a distribution event on Friday, Oct. 16, in the Sanford Center parking lot. Each family was able to receive one box of food during the drive-thru event. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)



Bemidji State employee Lisa Jones helps a student register for the free COVID-19 saliva testing event for BSU and NTC students on Nov. 17, at the Gillett Wellness Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)


Dr. Ramy Abdelfattah, a special care unit physician and hospitalist, was the first to receive the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine on Thursday, Dec. 17, at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. It was given by registered nurse Heather Eichstadt. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)


Sheryl Austin, left, high fives her mother, Cathy Rothfield, after she received an initial dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)


A group participating in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s rally waits to cross Paul Bunyan Drive on Sunday. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)


March 2021

A wave of 5K runners take off from the start of the Shamrock Shuffle on Saturday morning near the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

What To Read Next
Get Local