Moose Lake prison now has 3 inmates with COVID-19; St. Louis, Itasca, Koochiching counties report new cases

Three other inmates are still awaiting test results.

FSA Coronavirus local

Three inmates at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Moose Lake have now tested positive for COVID-19, while a handful of other cases were reported by county officials across the region Wednesday.

The Minnesota Department of Corrections said two more positive tests were returned after the first inmate was confirmed to have coronavirus over the weekend. A total of six inmates had been tested, with the other three still awaiting results as of Wednesday afternoon.

Moose Lake remained the only prison in the state to have confirmed cases among inmates, according to the DOC, though a staff member also tested positive at the Red Wing prison in southeastern Minnesota over the weekend.

Earlier in the day, Carlton County officials had confirmed a second case — though it was unclear if that was one of the inmates or a separate case in the community.

“(Minnesota Department of Health) was very clear in saying that community transmission is widespread in Minnesota now, so it could have very well been someone in a different county,” Carlton County Public Health spokeswoman Meghan Levitt said. “It’s not necessarily — we can’t give a 'yes' or 'no' if it was related to the first case at all.”


Meanwhile, Koochiching County reported its first case Wednesday afternoon. Officials would not offer details, citing privacy concerns, but said the Department of Health is reaching out to anyone who may have been in close contact with the person.

"Public Health and Emergency Management are working together with our local, state and federal partners to respond to this outbreak," Derek Foss, the county's Public Health supervisor, said in a statement. "We have a strong team and are doing everything we can to keep the residents of Koochiching County safe and healthy."

St. Louis and Itasca counties each reported one new case Wednesday. St. Louis is now up to 13, while Itasca is at two.

"We have known that COVID-19 has been in the area for a while, and we suspect that it is not going away anytime soon," said Dr. Patty Carlin-Janssen, Itasca County Public Health medical director and family medicine physician at Grand Itasca. "Our community is at an advantage because our schools and restaurants closed prior to our first confirmed case. Please keep doing what you're doing by staying home and limiting contact with others as well as practicing good hand hygiene. It will take all of us to get through this."

Currently in Minnesota, testing is limited to people who are hospitalized, health care workers and their families as well as those living in congregated living settings. Medical professionals believe the number of people with COVID-19 is far greater than what's reported through lab-based tests.

Medical professionals also know that people can have COVID-19 without showing any symptoms.

As of Wednesday morning, 689 people in Minnesota had tested positive and 342 of them no longer needed to be isolated. State officials said 122 people have been hospitalized, though only 54 remained in hospitals at the time of the daily update.

Seventeen people have died, all between ages 58 and 95, with a median age of 84.


Hospitalized patients have been between ages 6 and 95, with a median age of 64. Hospitalized patients in intensive care units have been between ages 33 and 95, with a median age of 64.

This story was updated several times, most recently at 8:39 p.m. April 1, with additional information on new cases across the region. It was originally posted at 11:47 a.m. April 1.

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Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or
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