The number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19  in Pine County has jumped from 12 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 last week to 56 this week. Only eight other counties in the state have had more residents sick with the virus. 

However, according to Minnesota Department of Corrections reports, at least 45 of those positive cases come from an outbreak in a single location: the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Willow River.

As of April 27 in the Willow River facility, 60 patients have been tested, with 45 positive and 15 negative test results. Seven more cases are presumed positive. 

The Willow River facility is a minimum security boot camp program for up to 180 non-violent male offenders to earn early release. Phase 1 is a six-month, intensive program for non-violent drug and property male offenders. The program includes education, critical thinking skills development, chemical dependency programming, and rigorous physical exercise. Phases 2 and 3, supervised release phases, are generally six months in duration and served in the community.

No deaths related to COVID-19 have yet been reported in Pine County. 

Art in the Park, Art Fest canceled

The Pine City Arts Council has announced that, with sad hearts, they are canceling Art in the Park 2020 and the Pine City Arts Fest 2020. The summer gatherings celebrating music, art, food and fun have been an annual tradition in Robinson Park. This year would have marked the 43rd annual Art Fest in Pine City.

Pine City Ambassador Program canceled

The Pine City Ambassador Program Committee offered the following statement: 

“The impact of COVID-19 on communities across Minnesota has left many of our fellow ambassador programs choosing to cancel or delay their events this year.  The Pine City Ambassador Program began the application process in early March, before the recent closures and we were excited to welcome nine candidates into the program this year.  

“It is with deep regret that our committee has decided to announce the cancellation of our 2020-2021 program for the senior candidates and the little miss program.  It would be difficult for us to provide the rich candidate experience with current social distancing guidelines as well as protect the health and safety of candidates and community members.  With many cancellations this summer, the ambassador experience will also suffer.

“Our Pine City Ambassadors - Belle, Ally, Makayla and Addison - will stay connected with the ambassador communities for now and they look forward to returning next year when our spring season would resume and take part in a few more parades or coronations.”

Freedom Fest

The Pine City Ambassador Program has been joined to Freedom Fest in recent years. The Freedom Fest Committee had no updates on this year’s Freedom Fest, which is currently scheduled for June 27. 

Pine County Fair 

The Pine County Fair Board has not yet made a determination whether or not it will be possible to hold the July 29-Aug. 2 Pine County Fair this year, and under what conditions it might be able to do so.

Pine County COVID-19 hotline

Pine County’s COVID-19 hotline at 320-591-1690 is open Monday-Friday 8 .m. to 5 p.m. to help with questions about COVID-19, connecting with local resources and accessing essential services. After 5 p.m., leave a message and they will call you back within one business day. 

Those with questions can also email


• For health questions call 800-657-3903 or 651-201-3920 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

• Housing questions: For single-family residences call 651-296-8215; for multi-family residences call 651-297-4455 from Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• For school and childcare questions call 651-297-1304 or 800-657-3504 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week

• For the discrimination helpline call 833-454-0148.

• To report a concern about the stay at home order call 651-793-3746.

NAMI Minnesota offers online mental health classes

NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has set up a wide variety of online mental health classes for May. The free classes are held online on Zoom. They include classes such as Creating Caring Communities, Mental Health and the Workplace, Self Care and Mindfulness, Hope for Recovery, Get to Know NAMI, Discipline Tips for Stressed Parents, Mental Illnesses and Crisis Communication Strategies, a suicide prevention class called QPR – Question, Persuade and Refer and many more.

The classes are designed for family members and caregivers, persons living with a mental illness, service providers, and also the general public. Find a complete listing of these classes and how to join in by going to and clicking on “Classes” or go straight to


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