Where were you when you realized the world was about to change? That a virus first reported on the other side of the globe would dramatically alter everyday life where you call home?
It’s been a year since the declaration of a national emergency in the United States because of the coronavirus pandemic — a long and strange year marked by shock, fear, upheaval, loss and frustration. The events we’ve individually and collectively experienced brought some together, while others were torn apart.
Families lost loved ones without the chance to say goodbye. Community members lost their incomes and watched their dreams pull apart at the seams. Young people lost activities and life milestones that cannot be recreated. Things most of us never even considered could be taken away or stopped suddenly were.
But despite the trauma and the undeniable change in trajectory this past year’s events sent the world and our communities on, hope prevails. We witnessed small businesses persevere, innovate and overcome. We saw the kindness of strangers shower those in need with nourishment along with financial and emotional support. Even in the most difficult of times, many of us still achieved personal victories. Perhaps with so many things stripped away, our focus on what matters most achieved greater clarity.
One year later, positive signs of a move toward whatever normal looks like after this continue to add up. More people have access to a vaccine and trends seem to be headed in the right direction. A look back at what brought us to this moment shows just how far we’ve come — from the frightening confusion of the early days to the march toward lives no longer dictated by an invisible force.
Throughout 2021, the Brainerd Dispatch in a series of stories will explore how COVID-19 impacted the Brainerd lakes area, including revisiting people, businesses and organizations profiled during the various stages of the pandemic.
Below is a timeline of notable local events from the year that changed us all.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020 — The World Health Organization declares the novel coronavirus a global pandemic and in a primetime address, President Donald Trump announces the suspension of travel from Europe. Good Samaritan Society announces it will restrict visitors to its skilled nursing facilities, including at Brainerd’s Bethany and Woodland locations. A total of five COVID-19 cases were reported in Minnesota at the time.
Thursday, March 12 — Minnesota State reports it will suspend classes at all of its college and university locations in the state, including Central Lakes College in Brainerd. CLC was on spring break at the time and plans called for classes to resume March 23. The state tournament for adapted floor hockey is canceled, ending the season of the defending champion Brainerd Warriors. Pierz boys basketball also saw their season end unceremoniously ahead of the section championship.
Friday, March 13 — After first deciding to go on with the parade during a March 11 special meeting, the Crosslake City Council votes in an emergency meeting to cancel the large St. Patrick’s Day event. Brainerd Community Action follows suit in canceling Brainerd’s holiday parade. Cuyuna Regional Medical Center closes its Care Center and Heartwood Senior Living Community to visitors except for special circumstances, and the Crow Wing County Jail suspends visits as well. Event cancellations begin to proliferate, including the remaining spring season of the CLC Performing Arts Center.
Sunday, March 15 — Reacting to a Sunday news conference by Gov. Tim Walz, Brainerd Public Schools Superintendent Laine Larson announces Brainerd schools would close Monday, two days earlier than required by Walz. Also announcing Monday closures are Pequot Lakes, Pine River-Backus, Onamia and Staples-Motley school districts and Crosslake Community School. The schools were set to remain closed through March 27. The Brainerd Family YMCA announces it would offer emergency day care.
Monday, March 16 — Crow Wing County and the cities of Brainerd and Crosby close their buildings to the public. The Deerwood City Council votes to close the Deerwood Auditorium. Walz signs an executive order closing restaurants and bars to indoor seating while also shutting down a number of other public accommodations. Meanwhile, local restaurants including Baxter Cafe gear up to provide meals to students without school meals.
Tuesday, March 17 — Lakes area bars and restaurants are open without any kind of restrictions for the last time before ever-evolving executive orders limit capacities, change hours of operation and impose other limitations through present day.
Wednesday, March 18 — Grand View Lodge General Manager Mark Ronnei tells the Dispatch more than 100 employees were laid off in the wake of Walz’s executive order requiring closures of a number of businesses.
Saturday, March 21 — The first case of COVID-19 in the Brainerd lakes area is reported in Cass County in an older resident with no travel history. The person was reportedly isolated at home.
Monday, March 23 — Essentia Health establishes a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at its Baxter clinic. At the time, testing is restricted to those with symptoms due to a shortage in testing supplies.
Tuesday, March 24 — The Crow Wing County Board votes unanimously to extend a local emergency declared over the weekend. A declaration of a local emergency invoked parts of the county’s emergency response and recovery plan, allowing the county to act quickly and without compliance to typical regulations in a number of areas.
Wednesday, March 25 — Gov. Tim Walz issues a statewide stay-at-home order, with exceptions in place for essential workers.
Thursday, March 26 — Home sewers drop off donated, hand-sewn face masks at Essentia Health at a time when supplies of personal protective equipment were uncertain and masks were almost entirely unavailable to the general public.
Friday, March 27 — A 90th birthday celebration in the driveway for Lorraine Bemis of Brainerd is an early example of family celebrations and other events adapted for the times. Instead of serving up spirits, new Brainerd business Five Rocks Distilling Co. brews and gives away hand sanitizer as its first act.
Monday, March 30 — The first known case of COVID-19 is reported in Crow Wing County, although not in a county resident. The infected person was a short-term resident of Brainerd drug rehabilitation facility Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge. With closures extended, area schools begin distance learning with plans to reopen after May 1. Also this date, Essentia Health announces it would place hundreds of employees not involved in direct patient care on administrative leave in anticipation of a coronavirus surge.
Wednesday, April 1 — The first two COVID-19 cases among residents of Crow Wing County are reported — one by the Minnesota Department of Health and a second by Cuyuna Regional Medical Center. The Brainerd Jaycees Run for the Lakes, scheduled for April 25, is moved to a virtual format and the opening weekend for North Central Speedway is pushed back.
Thursday, April 2 — Area manufacturers and other businesses including The Teehive, LINDAR and Gull Lake Glass discuss the changes they’ve made in response to the pandemic. The Teehive began producing face masks, LINDAR manufactured face shields and Gull Lake Glass scrambled to keep up with orders of Plexiglas installation.
Friday, April 3 — The Crow Wing County Board agrees to allow taxpayers to apply for a penalty waiver for May property taxes during an emergency meeting, focused on impacted businesses and individuals who were laid off.
Wednesday, April 8 — The statewide stay-at-home order is extended through May 3.
Thursday, April 9 — Sheriff Scott Goddard shares with the Dispatch that some inmates were released from the Crow Wing County Jail to allow for social distancing, along with other changes implemented to who is brought to the jail in the first place during the pandemic.
Saturday, April 18 — Closed under governor’s orders, Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter sells family-size bags of popcorn curbside along with gift cards for people to use upon reopening. Mann Theatres, which owns the theater, donated 10% of the proceeds to fighting COVID-19.
Sunday, April 19 — The Dispatch reports Crow Wing County purchased a semitrailer for possible use as a morgue in late March in reaction to the potential death toll due to COVID-19. Various models at the time — several of which were based on no mitigation actions being taken — projected higher fatalities than would ultimately occur.
Sunday, April 26 — The first death attributed to COVID-19 in Crow Wing County occurs when 71-year-old Maury Graham, a fixture of the Lakes Area Alano Association and Pequot Lakes community member, dies.
Tuesday, April 28 — Following approval by the county board, voters in Crow Wing County’s third largest population center, Unorganized Territory would cast their ballots exclusively by mail in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thursday, April 30 — Local health care leaders host a webinar to share information about COVID-19 and their response, predicting a surge in cases in late summer or early fall. Gov. Tim Walz extends the stay-at-home order yet again, this time through May 18. In response, the Diocese of Duluth extends the suspension of public mass.
Monday, May 4 — Costco begins requiring masks for customers. Also joining the early adopter was Menards.
Sunday, May 10 — The first COVID-19 death in Cass County is reported. At the time, there were eight recorded cases of the disease in that county. The following day, Cass would report its second death.
Tuesday, May 12 — Lakes Jam reports it will postpone its 2020 music festival originally scheduled for June 24-27, moving the event to Aug. 5-8. Eight more Crow Wing County townships decide to vote by mail in 2020.
Wednesday, May 13 — Central Lakes College hosts its first of two virtual graduation ceremonies.
Sunday, May 17 — The Dispatch reports a group of Brainerd High School parents worked with Brainerd International Raceway to host a graduation car parade prior to the virtual ceremony for graduating seniors.
Monday, May 18 — Minnesota’s stay-at-home order expires. Good Samaritan Society-Bethany, in Brainerd, confirms 13 residents and eight employees at its facility tested positive for COVID-19. The south Brainerd skilled nursing center was the first in Crow Wing County to report cases of the disease and would ultimately see one of the highest death tolls of an outstate facility as 25 residents succumbed.
Wednesday, May 20 — Gov. Tim Walz announces restaurants and bars can offer outdoor seating when they’re permitted to reopen June 1, but still no indoor seating.
Friday, May 22 — The Crow Wing County Fair is canceled the same day the Minnesota State Fair board announced the Great Minnesota Get-Together would not take place. Also canceled on that date was Brainerd’s Fourth of July parade and surrounding events, although the fireworks were set to continue. Brainerd High School hosts its graduation parade and virtual ceremony. A precipitous rise in cases in Todd County is attributed to an outbreak at Long Prairie Packing Co., a beef processing facility.
Wednesday, June 12 — The Brainerd Dispatch announces it will reduce its print editions to twice weekly, shifting publication on its other days to online only. The move was motivated in part by financial impacts of the pandemic.
Wednesday, June 24 — Timberjack Smokehouse and Saloon in Pequot Lakes temporarily closes after the positive COVID-19 test of a bartender. It was the first known local closure since reopening due to a positive test, a business decision that would become routine over the course of the summer.
Thursday, June 25 — After a number of meetings and considerations, Baxter Parks and Recreation announces the cancellation of its typical youth baseball program. Instead, the city offered a dollar baseball program at Oscar Kristofferson Park.
Friday, June 26 — Lakes 12 Theatre reopens, showing classic movies such as “Dirty Dancing,” “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park.” Cuyuna Regional Medical Center announces it will allow outdoor visits with residents of its skilled nursing and senior living facilities.
Thursday, July 2 — Lakes Jam is officially canceled for the summer.
Monday, July 6 — Statewide, COVID-19 deaths sink to a three-month low.
Monday, July 20 — A slew of retailers begin requiring masks inside their stores, including Walmart, Home Depot, Target, CVS and others. Brainerd Community Theatre begins its run of “Sh-Boom! Life Could be a Dream” outdoors to a socially distanced crowd.
Saturday, July 25 — A statewide mask mandate ordered July 22 by Gov. Tim Walz goes into effect.
Tuesday, July 28 — The Crow Wing County Board agrees to a framework for a grant program using funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Businesses and nonprofits ordered closed by the governor are eligible to receive $10,000 grants. Other local jurisdictions also develop grant programs with the funds.
Tuesday, Aug. 4 — The Minnesota State High School League’s board of directors vote to keep girls tennis, girls swimming and diving, boys and girls cross-country and boys and girls soccer in the fall while moving football and volleyball into a new version of the spring season.
Thursday, Aug. 6 — The Brainerd School Board votes to begin the 2020-21 school year in a hybrid learning model. The format would have students in kindergarten through fifth grade learning in person each day, while those in grades 6-12 would attend in person classes twice a week and learn remotely three days a week. In addition, distance learning would be an option for any student who so chooses.
Friday, Aug. 7 — The Iron Waffle Coffee Co. in Lake Shore reports the state health department shut it down for not complying with the state’s mask mandate. The restaurant would go on to face more severe penalties, including a license suspension, after defying closure orders in the winter.
Thursday, Aug. 13 — Lifespring Church in Crosby is one of three Minnesota churches to join a lawsuit by the Thomas More Society against Gov. Tim Walz and county attorneys including Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan. The suit contends the government officials are violating religious liberties by limiting capacity during services, requiring 6 feet of social distancing and requiring face masks.
Tuesday, Sept. 1 — A lookback at August’s COVID-19 cases in the region shows spread is escalating. More than one-third of Crow Wing County’s cases reported at the time — 312 — occurred in August. The deaths of 16 Crow Wing County residents were recorded.
Tuesday, Sept. 8 — Students return to school — some in person, some online — for the 2020-21 school year. After nearly six months of meetings the public could not attend in person, the Crow Wing County Board votes to reopen the doors. Those in attendance would be expected to follow social distancing guidelines and the state mandate requiring masks in indoor spaces. The Brainerd City Council also voted to reopen meetings to the public this date.
Tuesday, Sept. 15 — Discovery Woods school in Brainerd, a Montessori-inspired charter school, is the first in the region to change its learning model in response to positive COVID-19 cases. Tri-County Community Action Partnership shuts down its Brainerd Head Start center for in-person learning after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The Baxter City Council agrees to continue meeting via Zoom and decides to revisit the issue in October.
Sunday, Sept. 20 — Fifth graders at Pioneer Elementary School in Pierz move to distance learning for the next week due a COVID-19 case in the school. Pierz School District announced the person who tested positive was last in attendance Tuesday, Sept. 15.
Tuesday, Sept. 22 — Brainerd Superintendent Laine Larson announces all Brainerd High School students will begin distance learning Sept. 24 in response to a cluster of COVID-19 cases. BHS was one of the first schools in the state to report a cluster of cases, just two weeks after classes resumed.
Tuesday, Oct. 6 — An increase in Crow Wing County cases pushes the Crosby-Ironton School District to move students at Cuyuna Range Elementary School to a hybrid learning model beginning Oct. 19. As of this date, the county’s 14-day per 10,000 case rate was about 29. According to the state’s Safe Learning Plan, schools are recommended to use a hybrid learning model for all students if the rate is 20-29.
Thursday, Oct. 8 — With COVID-19 cases steadily climbing in the region, forcing school districts to change learning models, area superintendents issue a letter pleading with community members to do their part to help stop the spread of the virus.
Friday, Oct. 9 — A spike in hospitalizations is raising alarms for the county’s public health leader as more than 200 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Crow Wing County in the previous two weeks. Since Oct. 3, the Minnesota Department of Health has reported nine new hospitalizations among Crow Wing County residents, the single largest increase in hospitalizations in the county during a one-week period.
Friday, Oct. 16 — All area counties except Cass and Aitkin are on similarly steep trajectories with newly reported COVID-19 cases. Mille Lacs and Wadena counties saw the most recent spikes, while Crow Wing, Morrison and Todd have all been rising since mid- to late September.
Monday, Oct. 19 — October brings with it a significant uptick in positive cases in the seven-county region along with increases in more serious impacts of the virus, such as hospitalizations and deaths. Forty percent of all cases reported thus far occurred in the month of October with nearly two weeks remaining. Little Falls Community Schools reports it will begin distance learning for all students in preschool through 12th grade Oct. 26.
Thursday, Oct. 22 — After several staff members were exposed to COVID-19, Crow Wing County officials decide to close the community services building. Brainerd High School teacher Dave Borash is discharged from Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center after spending five days in intensive care with severe symptoms of COVID-19.
Sunday, Oct. 25 — Crow Wing County surpasses 1,000 confirmed cases.
Monday, Oct. 26 — Two downtown Brainerd bars, Shep’s on 6th and 9th Street Social Club, close for COVID-19-related reasons, according to their social media pages. Shep’s reported someone who was positive for the disease came to the bar Saturday night, prompting immediate closure of the bar.
Tuesday, Oct. 27 — This date marks the 10th consecutive day with at least one area resident among those who’ve died due to complications associated with COVID-19 as new cases continue to skyrocket in north-central Minnesota.
Thursday, Oct. 29 — Middle school and high school students at Brainerd Public Schools will all move to distance learning Thursday, Nov. 5, Superintendent Laine Larson notifies families. With 59 new COVID-19 cases reported, this date marks the highest single-day total for Crow Wing County since the pandemic began amid a record-breaking rise in cases statewide. The record would be broken the next day and continue to be challenged in the months ahead.
Tuesday, Nov. 3 — The general election takes place amid surging COVID-19 cases, with lines stretching down sidewalks in some jurisdictions and virus mitigation efforts prominent. Despite the challenges, Crow Wing County sets a record for voter turnout.
Thursday, Nov. 5 — Pequot Lakes middle and high school students will begin full-time distance learning Monday, Nov. 9, Superintendent Chris Lindholm announces. The younger students will continue going to school each day but with tighter protocols in place at school, while preschoolers will maintain their normal schedule.
Friday, Nov. 6 — After a week that’s seen records set and broken a number of times, Crow Wing County shatters its previous single-day total with 125 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. The number was nearly double the previous single-day record in the county, which was 65 cases set Oct. 30. This date would stand as the high water mark for new cases in the county.
Monday, Nov. 9 — Crow Wing County Administrator Tim Houle says the sheer volume of county residents testing positive is making it increasingly difficult for county staff to keep up with contact tracing efforts. The announcement comes as 475 new cases in county residents were identified by the Minnesota Department of Health in one week with the 14-day total nearing 750.
Tuesday, Nov. 10 — Brainerd Public Schools announces the district will move the rest of its students into the distance learning model. Gov. Tim Walz announces an effort to tamp down the spread, imposing new statewide restrictions on bars, restaurants and social gatherings.
Wednesday, Nov. 11 — The death of the 23rd Crow Wing County resident due to COVID-19 is among the record 56 deaths reported by the Minnesota Department of Health. The latest figures showed Crow Wing County had 22 new COVID-19 hospitalizations since Friday. More than a dozen schools in the seven-county region of Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Mille Lacs, Todd and Wadena announce changes to their learning models within the past week, several citing staffing shortages as one of the reasons.
Thursday, Nov. 12 — Hospitalizations reported this date mean there were 30 hospitalizations in the past week, pushing the total number of residents hospitalized over to 101. One month ago on Oct. 12, that number stood at 43. For the second time, the Crow Wing County Board votes to restrict public access to county buildings. Crosby-Ironton and Little Falls are the latest lakes area school districts to announce a shift to distance learning due to increasing COVID-19 cases and staffing shortages. Following a COVID-19 positive test on the Brainerd Warriors football team, the team cancels its game against the Sartell Sabres and ended its 2020 season.
Friday, Nov. 13 — More than one-quarter of all the confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Crow Wing County since the beginning of the pandemic occur in the previous week. The positive test results of nearly 600 county residents are counted.
Sunday, Nov. 15 — Now facing more COVID-19 patients than ever before, an influx of people who’ve delayed care for chronic conditions, and reduced staff due to illness or quarantine, the difficult days that were once hypothetical are becoming more and more frequent, local hospital leaders tell the Dispatch. Crow Wing County’s 14-day case count exceeds 1,000 for the first time over the weekend, adding new cases at an average pace of 90 cases per day in the previous week.
Tuesday, Nov. 17 — Fourth through 12th grade students in Aitkin will be in a distance learning format until mid-January, while Little Falls students will begin their distance learning sooner than expected.
Wednesday, Nov. 18 — Skyrocketing rates of COVID-19 across the state prompt Gov. Tim Walz to prohibit all in-person social gatherings and restrict bars and restaurants on indoor services starting at midnight Nov. 20, lasting four weeks until midnight Dec. 18. Theaters and gyms must close, although retail stores can be open. Winter sports are also put on pause.
Friday, Nov. 20 — Nearly 30 area residents lose their lives because of complications from the disease. In total, the seven-county area counted 2,402 new COVID-19 cases this week, which represents 24% of all confirmed cases since March.
Tuesday, Nov. 24 — With six days left, the number of hospitalizations in November nearly triple in comparison to October’s numbers. A total of 84 residents were hospitalized so far and confirmed cases during the month are set to exceed 2,000 by a significant margin.
Friday, Nov. 27 — The deaths of seven area residents are among the 101 reported by the Minnesota Department of Health. The figure marks the first time the state reported deaths in the triple digits in a single day. Nisswa City of Lights is a drive-thru event, featuring Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus greeting children through a bank window.
Friday, Dec. 4 — New confirmed cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus among residents in the region drop this week to the lowest number since the first week of November, but the number of deaths remained in the 20s.
Sunday, Dec. 6 — Crow Wing County surpasses 4,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, while the deaths of six area residents were among those reported by the Minnesota Department of Health. It took 208 days to reach the first 1,000 cases. The second 1,000 cases took 17 days and the third 1,000 cases took 11 days. The fourth set of 1,000 cases slowed a bit, taking 15 days.
Thursday, Dec. 10 — While deaths continue to add up in the region and statewide, signs point to a slowdown in the recent surge of new coronavirus cases and the hospitalizations that come with it. Crow Wing County is one of just four counties in the state for which the seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate was below 5%.
Wednesday, Dec. 16 — For the first time since late October, a county in the region reports no new cases of COVID-19. Wadena County stays at 1,035 cumulative cases, the same as the tally reported Tuesday. Gov. Tim Walz announces he will extend an order keeping restaurants and bars closed for indoor service and will authorize elementary schools to reopen with coronavirus mitigation measures in place.
Monday, Dec. 21 — The two hospital systems in Crow Wing County administer the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Health care workers at both Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd and Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby received vaccinations. The Brainerd City Council awards its Community Member of the Month honor to the health care workers of Crow Wing County and their families.
Wednesday, Dec. 23 — Brainerd Superintendent Laine Larson announces the Brainerd School District will open its facilities to full in-person learning for its early childhood students through second grade starting Jan. 19. Brainerd woman Cori Wrobel shares the story of her significant other’s prolonged and serious struggle with the impacts of COVID-19. Although 58-year-old Mark Skogen was moved from the cardiac intensive care unit and appeared to be on the mend, the Brainerd man died on Christmas Eve.
Sunday, Dec. 27 — The deaths of 25 people in the seven-county area due to COVID-19 are reported by the Minnesota Department of Health in the previous week, including 10 Crow Wing County residents. New cases, meanwhile, remain at their lowest point in months.
Tuesday, Jan. 5 — With the conclusion of the Cuisine Cash program, the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce reports more than 8,500 gift cards sold for about $170,000. The intention of the program was to bolster local small businesses in the dining and hospitality industries. Seventh through 12th graders at Crosby-Ironton will return to the classroom Jan. 20 after nearly two months of distance learning, High School Principal Jennifer Strom says in a letter to families.
Friday, Jan. 8 — In a letter to families, Superintendent Laine Larson announces more details on the district’s phased reopening plan, including timelines for third through 12th graders to return to the classroom.
Thursday, Jan. 14 — COVID-19 case rates in area counties continue to trend downward as more and more Minnesotans receive vaccines. The Minnesota Department of Health announced hospitals, health care systems and other vaccination partners could provide vaccines to broader categories of Minnesotans, including those 65 and older.
Monday, Jan. 18 — The state begins rolling out vaccine to school districts to be given to educators.
Tuesday, Jan. 19 — Brainerd students in early childhood through second grade stepped back into the buildings Jan. 19 after two months in a distance learning model. The Crow Wing County Board unanimously approves distributing funds set aside by the Minnesota Legislature into the community, prioritizing businesses not ordered closed by Gov. Tim Walz that could still demonstrate financial impacts of COVID-19.
Friday, Jan. 22 — Guidepoint Pharmacy, Essentia Health, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center and Crow Wing County partner to deliver vaccine to hundreds of educators across the Crosby-Ironton, Pequot Lakes and Brainerd school districts. Crosslake’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade is canceled for the second year in a row.
Wednesday, Jan. 27 — Cuyuna Regional Medical Center offers its first vaccination clinic for those ages 65 and older, distributing nearly 800 shots to a population among the most vulnerable to the virus’ serious complications.
Monday, Feb. 1 — Brainerd elementary schools welcome back third and fourth grade students after more than two months of distance learning. Crow Wing County has fewer than 100 active cases of COVID-19 for the first time in more than four months.
Tuesday, Feb. 9 — Essentia Health updates its visitor policy to one adult visitor per patient, per day, allowed in all clinics and hospitals, including emergency departments. About one-third of Crow Wing County’s 65-plus population received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Friday, Feb. 12 — In response to growing frustration expressed by their patients over delays and ever-changing information about the availability and delivery of vaccine doses, leaders of several lakes area health care organizations issue a joint statement Friday offering understanding and reassurance, while also explaining they’ll have to delay administration of second doses to some patients.
Friday, Feb. 19 — As Minnesota Department of Health officials celebrate the 1,000,000th dose of COVID-19 vaccine distributed in the state, Aitkin County becomes the first in the seven-county region in which 20% of the population received at least one dose.
Monday, Feb. 22 — In-person criminal jury trials for all case types will resume in state district courts effective March 15 under a new statewide order issued by Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea.
Wednesday, Feb. 24 — Pine River-Backus Superintendent Jonathan Clark announces a two-week reset period for seventh through 12th graders, after three positive cases in students and staff. Little Falls Community High School canceled two boys hockey games after Athletic Director Kevin Jordan said a recent opponent confirmed a case of COVID-19, meaning the Little Falls boys had to quarantine.
Tuesday, March 2 — Several COVID-19 vaccination options are available to those who qualify in the lakes area this week, with supply bolstered in part by the introduction of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine into the U.S. market.
Tuesday, March 9 — More than two-thirds of Crow Wing County’s 65 and older population is at least partly vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Tuesday, March 9, while the state moves to expand eligibility to the next two priority groups.
Thursday, March 11 — President Joe Biden gives his first primetime address after signing the latest $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress, telling Americans life may be close to normal by the Fourth of July. There should be enough vaccine to innoculate all American adults by May, the president says.
Friday, March 12 — In another sign of improvement, Gov. Tim Walz announces a significant scaling back of restrictions on social gatherings, restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues, set to go into effect Monday, March 15.