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Mikko Owner Visited the Nordic Cafe Days Before Testing Positive for COVID-19

Mikko Kosonen believes he caught the virus during a road trip to high-risk states out West

Chef Mikko Kosonen
Chef Mikko Kosonen says he briefly entered his Dupont restaurant without knowing he was infected with COVID-19
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Dupont Circle cafe Mikko Nordic Fine Food has temporarily closed because the chef and owner entered the space days before testing positive for COVID-19.

In a message Mikko Kosonen shared today on Twitter and Facebook, the chef says he likely contracted the coronavirus during a “monumental two-week road trip” out West. When reached by phone, Kosonen said he had visited Montana, Utah, and Idaho, which means he violated a mayoral order mandating that people who travel into D.C. self-quarantine for 14 days after visiting high-risk states. All three states are on D.C.’s high-risk list.

“Not very smart of me, but it is what it is,” Kosonen says.

Kosonen’s post says he is sick but not showing severe symptoms, but he was coughing throughout a phone call.

“This is pretty brutal, but I think I’m beating it day by day,” he says.

Kosonen says he returned to D.C. late on Monday August 10 and got tested Friday, August 14, after he started to show symptoms the day before. He says he received a positive result Monday, August 17. Kosonen’s social media post says he “mostly quarantined,” upon returning home, but he entered Mikko for brief periods on August 11 and August 12.

Kosonen says he wore a mask each time, and did not prepare food. On the first visit, he says he stopped by for about 30 minutes to pick up paperwork. On the second visit, he went to check on the shop and talk to police after an employee reported broken glass that looked like an attempted break-in.

“Very clearly I shouldn’t be there, but it’s my business,” Kosonen says. “Do I regret [going] there? Yes I do. But I also had my morning person there by herself.”

Kosonen says Mikko has undergone three deep cleanings since he started showing symptoms. He says Eric Simning, the shop’s Vice President of Operations, has reported the case to D.C. Health and is awaiting a go-ahead from the department to reopen the shop.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, the city’s top health official, said Monday that that half-capacity indoor dining is responsible for 6 to 8 percent of the COVID-19 cases the city has tracked through its contact tracing efforts.