First COVID-19 case confirmed in Wadena County

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The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) confirmed one presumptive case of COVID-19 in Wadena County, Tuesday, April 28.

As of Tuesday afternoon it was unknown where the patient was tested or where in the county they reside. Tri-County Health Care President and CEO Joel Beiswenger shared that the patient was not tested at their facilities, as he understands, they would have been told if that were the case. With numerous hospitals and clinics offering testing in surrounding communities and beyond, there are many places the test could have been taken.

Beiswenger said TCHC, the only hospital in Wadena County, was not phased by the confirmation instead he said Tri-County Health Care is prepared and is working towards returning some form of normalcy to their business in the next week.

"We believed it was in the community," Beiswenger said. "We just hadn't had the positive test."

In fact, he shared that the hospital looks to bring numerous services back to the hospital in the coming week in order to make sure people are being seen for their healthcare needs. While people may have had concerns about visiting the hospital, TCHC director of strategic marketing Andrew Ronnigen shared that people suffering either physically or mentally should not put off visiting the hospital or clinic as they may be putting their health in further danger than a simple visit to the doctor.


With the announcement last week providing for more testing in the state, Beiswenger said TCHC has not seen an uptick in testing yet. He said that might change with the recent positive case, but he believes they are ready as they are able to provide about 30 tests a day. They have not been administering that many so far. Ronnigen said Tuesday they had administered about 190 tests. He encouraged people that, if they have symptoms, they should come in and be tested.

"We could test many more patients than we have been," Beiswenger said.

While not on the state's testing site list early in the week, Beiswenger said TCHC should be by the end of the week. The process to get on the list involves providing a testing site outside of the emergency department. Ronnigen said they will be working to setup a testing area within the Wadena Clinic.

Positive cases

Eight counties in the state remain at zero confirmed cases including Wadena's neighbor to north Hubbard County. Other neighboring counties have seen slow increases in cases including Todd, 4; Otter Tail, 8; Becker 2; Cass 5; and Morrison 1 as of Tuesday, April 28.

The Department of Health is working with the identified case in Wadena County and their close contacts; and will follow up with additional people who may be at risk, according to a news release from the Wadena County Public Health. The release notes that this information is preliminary and may change with additional case investigation. Previously, Wadena County had a resumed positive case

“Regardless of whether or not further investigation will reaffirm this presumptive case of COVID-19 to be a resident of Wadena County, we know community transmission is widespread throughout Minnesota and with test capacity on the rise we are likely to see additional lab confirmed cases in our county,” said Cindy Pederson, Public Health Director. “Please understand that to protect privacy and as required by law, any identifying information about persons with lab confirmed disease can’t be shared.”

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A Minnesota Department of Health situation update Tuesday, April 28, showed Wadena County with one presumptive positive case of COVID-19. Image courtesy Minnesota Department of Health


“Our sincere wishes to this individual for a quick recovery. While we understand a first confirmed positive case may increase concern about the COVID virus; our county departments, community partners and medical partners have been preparing for this for weeks,” said Chuck Horsager, Wadena County Board Chair. “We encourage everyone to continue to follow the recommendations on how best to protect themselves and help contain the spread of this virus."

Recommendations include:

  • Stay at home if sick
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow
  • Avoid touching mouth and face
  • Wear a face covering in public and when it is difficult to practice social distancing of at least 6 feet
  • Practice general good health behaviors, including staying hydrated and well-rested
  • Follow any “Stay at Home Minnesota” orders that are in place In a majority of cases, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness. Health related questions about COVID-19 virus can be directed to the Minnesota Department of Health hotline at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; or to Wadena County Public Health at 218-631-7629 open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Anyone with clinical questions about the COVID-19 virus, such as identifying symptoms or whether testing is needed, can direct questions to their medical provider by phone or by “virtual clinic” options. Check your health care provider’s website for available options. People can also visit or and click into coronavirus for the latest information.

Minnesota testing by the numbers

Testing numbers as of Tuesday, April 28:

  • 63,829 - Total approximate number of completed tests
  • 4,181 - Positive cases
  • 1,912 - Patients no longer needing isolation
  • 301 - Deaths
Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in the city of Verndale, Minn., but is bent on making it as country as he can until he returns once more to the farm living he enjoys. Also living the dream are his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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