Itasca County continues to see COVID-19 spread locally, with a total of over 41 laboratory-confirmed cases and, sadly, three additional COVID-related deaths. Due to privacy concerns, county health officials will not be providing additional details regarding those who have passed away, said Kelly Chandler, Itasca County Public Health department manage

“These are our friends and neighbors, people from church, playmates of our children, sometimes those without family nearby or social connections,” said Chandler. “COVID cases are not numbers to Itasca communities. Each one is someone we care about, and why we must continue to be thoughtful and responsible.”

Governor Walz dialed back his executive orders on May 13 for Minnesotans, including:

• Vulnerable Minnesotans should continue to stay home and social distance to protect themselves from viruses. This includes those at-risk for severe illness, such as the elderly or individuals with underlying health conditions.

• Gatherings of 10 or fewer are now permitted, still with 6-foot social distancing and use of masks encouraged.

• More businesses may reopen, provided they have COVID-related safety plans.

“One of the best things we can do right now is to boost our immune systems through healthy eating, keeping socially connected and staying physically active,” said Chandler. “We have a wealth of opportunities in the Itasca area, and with some planning most can still be done safely.”

According to Get Fit Itasca, a community led collaborative, just because we can’t be physically close doesn’t mean Itasca residents can’t be physically active. For example:

• Enjoy outdoor activities with six feet of social distancing and recommended PPE (helmet, face mask, etc.) for that activity.

• Stay active. It helps with both physical and mental health.

• Day use of trails, check out getfititasca.org/maps or visit Get Fit kiosks for area trails

• Itasca area ski and hiking trails are a great place to do longer day-hikes: https://www.co.itasca.mn.us/275/Hiking-Hunting-and-Skiing-Trails

• State parks are open for day use - just remember to stay close to home and avoid parks that are busy https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/index.html

• Swimming, boating, or fishing: best with those in your household, be patient at landings, don’t use public beaches that have been closed

• Grow a garden! Try not to share any tools or thoroughly clean them if at a community garden. Wash your hands of dirt before sanitizing.

• Participate in the Get Fit Itasca active living campaign. Follow along on Facebook or Instagram.

• Action for Healthy Kids’ Healthy Kids blog has great ideas for physical activity during this stay near home https://www.actionforhealthykids.org/blog/

• The Alliance for a Healthier Generation has resources for parents and caregivers https://www.healthiergeneration.org/

Other local ideas for staying connected and staying active can be found at www.stableembrace.org, a website created by Itasca area agencies and volunteers.

Itasca County’s enhanced Call Center now provides live staffing every day between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 218-327-6784 for those with COVID-related issues and needs.

Other helpful resources:

• Current opportunities at Grand Rapids city parks and facilities: www.cityofgrandrapidsmn.com

• Ideas for close-to-home activities and retail: https://visitgrandrapids.com/covid-19-updates

•Itasca County OHV trail updates: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/closures.html

•Governor’s Stay Safe order: https://tinyurl.com/MNStaySafe

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