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Kandiyohi County's first reported COVID-19 death is skilled nursing facility resident

Bethesda Grand of Willmar on Tuesday confirmed that a resident had died from COVID-19.

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WILLMAR, Minn. — The first death from COVID-19 has been reported in Kandiyohi County.

Bethesda , a nonprofit providing both residential and community health care to seniors in west central Minnesota, confirmed via a news release Tuesday afternoon that an affected resident of Bethesda Grand in Willmar has died due to COVID-19 complications.

“It is with great sadness that Bethesda announces its first resident to have died with a positive COVID-19 result,” said Michelle Haefner, Bethesda's president and chief executive officer, in the news release. “At this difficult time, we extend our deepest sympathy to the family.”

Bethesda Grand, a skilled nursing facility in Willmar, has had two positive cases: one team member and the former resident who died.

It was first reported Monday that a former Bethesda resident had tested positive. The family expressed their support for community transparency and agreed Tuesday to publicly share the fact of their family member's death due to COVID-19, Haefner said.

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Testing of some Bethesda Grand residents and team members began after Bethesda learned Saturday that a team member had tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, 39 Bethesda residents had been tested, due to their neighborhood living arrangements, according to the news release. One resident had tested positive, the person who died, one test was still being processed and 37 had tested negative for COVID-19.

"We are encouraged by the high number of negative lab results," Haefner said. "We attribute this to having strict infection control procedures in place and acting quickly when a team member reported a potential symptom early."

Bethesda has received a few results from the team members who also have been tested, and those results have been confirmed as negative. The facility is still awaiting results from other potentially exposed team members who were tested and will share additional information when it becomes available.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported the death Tuesday morning in its daily situation update .

Kandiyohi County now has 64 confirmed positive cases of the disease, up from 39 reported Monday. The data reported each morning by the Minnesota Department of Health are current as of 4 p.m. the previous day.

The increase in cases comes following confirmed cases at Jennie-O Turkey Store and Bethesda Grand.

The data reported Tuesday show Meeker County now has nine cases, also an increase. Other regional counties — Renville (3), Swift (2), Chippewa (2), Lac qui Parle (1) and Yellow Medicine (3) counties — have all held steady with no increases over Monday's totals.

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Statewide there are now 4,181 confirmed positive cases, an increase of 365 from Monday. Deaths increased by 15 to 301. The numbers are cumulative from Jan. 20.

Approximately 1,912 patients have recovered and no longer need to be isolated, data show.

Kelly Boldan has been editor of West Central Tribune and Wctrib.com in Willmar, Minnesota, since October 2001. He joined Forum Communications Co. in November 1998 as editor of the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer.
Boldan can be reached via email: editor@wctrib.com or telephone: 320-214-4331.
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