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Billings, Yellowstone County still hit hardest in Montana

The neighboring states of North Dakota and South Dakota may be drawing much of the national interest because of high COVID-19 rates when it comes to the impact per capita, but the state of Montana is still having series problems dealing with the pandemic.

Even in rural Fallon County, COVID-19 still is a health problem.

The county health department was able to announce Monday there had been a slight drop in the number of active positives, but it still is much higher than when the county had less than four positives in late September.

The county health department adopted the mask requirement Sept. 30 when the number hit four in the county.

As of Monday, the active positives in the county is 53.

That is actually an improvement since the county had 80 positives several days earlier. There were six new COVID-19 cases.

“Thankfully, many of our patients moved into recovered status over the last couple of days so our current active case count is now 53,” a county healthy department spokesman said with release of Monday’s test results.

The department also warned that for a person to be considered to be recovered, they must be at least 10 days past the start of their symptoms, symptoms resolving, and having no fever for at least 24 hours without medication.

“On a positive note, we are seeing some decreased community spread and our community doing a great job masking up to keep others around them safe. Keep up the good work,” the spokesperson said.

“On a not so positive note, we have definitely seen an increase in severely symptomatic people. We have had several hospitalizations over the past week. Many of these are from our more vulnerable population, please do what you can to protect them,” the Facebook post reminded local residents.

While the number dropped to 53 positives, the number of recovered cases increased to 144 in Monday’s release. There were four patients listed as hospitalized.

The county has had a cumulative total of 197 positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic hit Montana earlier this year.

It was the Friday results released by the county health department where the the number of  positives were 80 after announcing four new positives.

The increase in Fallon County has been dramatic in recent weeks.

The number of active cases increased to 39 Nov. 9 – a jump of 15 cases.

That looked small a day later when the health department released the latest results of testing to 70 active COVID-19 cases – almost doubling the previous number.

By Nov, 12, the number of active cases had increased to 78 people.

COVID stressing state

According to a recent interview with NPR, a Montana doctor in Billings explained that her hospital was at a critical level of patients in ICU (intensive care units). She explained that ICU rooms were double-occupied and had several COVID patients in other areas.

The state of Montana reported 869 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 48,027.

Yellowstone County continues to be the hot spot in the Treasure State with a total of 4,784 active cases, 4,298 recovered and a total this year of 9,187 cases this year. The county also has had 105 fatalities tied to COVID-19.

So far this year 522 Montanans have died and 27,496 have recovered. As of Tuesday, the state had 20,009 active cases.

Mask directive

As of late September, masks are required to be worn in public setting in Fallon County.

According to state-wide directive approved by then Gov. Steve Bullock, there were several exceptions to wearing protective masks.

“Businesses, government offices, other persons responsible for indoor spaces open to the public, and sponsors of organized outdoor activities are not required to ensure the following individuals wear face coverings;

“children under the age of five. All children between the ages of two and four, however, are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in accordance with the provisions;

“persons consuming food or drinks in an establishment that offers food or drinks for sale;

“persons engaged in an activity that makes wearing a face covering impractical or unsafe, such as strenuous physical exercise or swimming;

“persons seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired;

“persons giving a speech or engaging in an artistic, cultural, musical, or theatrical performance for an audience, provided the audience is separated by at least six feet of distance;

“persons temporarily removing their face covering for identification purposes;

“persons required to remove face coverings for the purpose of receiving medical evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment;

“And persons who have a medical condition precluding the safe wearing of a face covering.”

When it was approved by Gov. Steve Bullock in July, it was supposed to target counties with four or more active cases.

As of Monday’s county health announcement, the county has exceeded that guideline more than 12 times over.

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