Cook County line. Submitted photo
Submitted photo

Sheriff says tree placed on Highway 61 out of fear of ‘spreading COVID-19 in Cook County’

There were local whispers several months ago of closing Highway 61 at the Cook County line due to fears of the new coronavirus.

Last night, someone took matters into their own hands.

According to the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, just before 2 a.m. on June 8, there was a report of a very large tree blocking Highway 61 near the Lake-Cook county line. When a deputy responded, he saw that the tree was blocking both lanes of Highway 61 and was intentionally cut for this purpose, according to a public statement released by the sheriff’s department.

Through investigation, it is believed that this action was taken in response to the influx of visitors to our area and the concerns of spreading COVID-19 to Cook County, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.

Officials from the Minnesota Department of Transportation needed to be called out to remove the tree so the highway could be reopened.

Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen released the following statement on this situation: “This type of action is reckless, dangerous and uncalled for. The commission of this inappropriate act can carry very serious consequences. If there was a medical transport to Duluth which was a life or death matter and the ambulance was unable to continue due to this irresponsible conduct, the cost is far greater than making this type of statement. Not only does this endanger motorists, but there is also a significant cost to the taxpayers for removal of the tree.”

The Sheriff’s Office will continue to investigate this matter. If you have information about this, you can use the contact information listed below.

Contact: Sheriff Pat Eliasen at 218-387-3030 or