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COVID-19 death caps 'deadliest week yet' for Yellowstone County, health officer says
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COVID-19 death caps 'deadliest week yet' for Yellowstone County, health officer says

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Another person in Yellowstone County has died as a result of COVID-19, bringing the county death total to 22, with 18 of those deaths coming since July 6. 

The recent death was first shown on the state's case tracking website Monday morning and then confirmed by RiverStone Health in a press release.

The person who died was a woman in her 90s. She died Saturday at a Billings hospital due to what RiverStone described as "complications due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus."

Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton offered his condolences in the press release and pointed to the fact that last week from Saturday to Saturday seven people with the virus died in Yellowstone County, "making last week the deadliest yet."

For the state, 47 people have died in the COVID-19 pandemic, according to numbers Monday morning.

Active hospitalizations dropped from 62 Sunday to 61 Monday. There have been 201 people hospitalized in the state since March because of COVID-19. 

Last Friday, Yellowstone County had 39 of the state's 54 active hospitalizations. Monday morning the state had 61 active hospitalizations. It wasn't immediately clear based on available information if any of the additional hospitalizations are Yellowstone County residents.

The state also confirmed another 41 new cases of COVID-19 through testing, including 22 in Yellowstone County, which has more than quadruple the number of active cases than any one single county. The new cases came from the processing of 6,340 tests. Over the last week, the state has had a positive rate of 3.9% on COVID-19 tests.

On July 16 at a press conference Felton described Yellowstone County as the epicenter of the pandemic and pointed to the spike in cases throughout the first weeks of the month.

Yellowstone County has had 893 total confirmed cases since March.

Asked about the outlook, Felton said the county could expect "a pretty rough rest of July." He also drew more specific connections between the case numbers locally and case numbers throughout the state, saying that cases in 13 counties and two Indian reservations were connected to exposures in Yellowstone County.

The 41 new cases Monday follow a record-setting Saturday in which the state added 224 new cases of COVID-19, which amounted to the biggest single-day increase in cases yet for Montana.

Yellowstone County had 483 active cases Monday morning, followed by Big Horn County with 114 and Gallatin County with 108. The state had 1,244 known cases Monday morning that were still considered active.

There have been 3,381 confirmed cases in Montana since March and 2,090 people are considered recovered on the state case tracking website.

Of the deaths in Yellowstone County in July, 15 have been residents of Canyon Creek Memory Care where an outbreak has led to the confirmed infection of 96 people including 56 residents.

The 483 cases in Yellowstone County this Monday compares to 485 active cases in the county the same time a week ago on July 20, meaning the county has decreased by two active cases despite five people dying over that span. 

The new confirmed cases in Yellowstone County include three females between the ages of 10 and 19, a man in his 20s, a woman in her 20s, two women in their 30s, two men in their 30s, three women in their 40s, a man in his 40s, three women in their 50s, a man in his 50s, three men in their 60s, a woman in her 60s and a man in his 80s.

The Yellowstone County Unified Health Command operates an online COVID-19 dashboard showing the status of various public health categories and functions related to COVID-19. The dashboard uses three different colors to indicate status. Green means operating at expected/normal capacity. Yellow means "Needs beginning to outpace capacity" and red means "stressed operations/critical concerns."

The dashboard statuses, last updated Sunday morning, are as follows:

  • Health Department Capacity, defined as having sufficient staff for COVID-19 monitoring and follow-up, was in yellow status.
  • Case Investigation, defined as the ability to manage investigations and contact tracing for all COVID-19 positive results, was in red status.
  • Testing Capacity, defined as staff and supplies to screen and test all individuals recommended for COVID-19 testing, was in yellow status.
  • Health care System Capacity, defined as sufficient hospital staff, beds, and equipment to treat patients with COVID-19 and all other patients safely, was in yellow status. 
  • Disease Surveillance, defined as monitoring emergency department visits for respiratory symptoms, was in green status.
  • Regional impact, defined as active COVID-19 cases in UHC's regional service area including surrounding counties, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, was in green status.

Big Horn County added nine new cases Monday morning. Additional counties adding cases including Gallatin with seven, Cascade with one (71 active), Lake with one (53 active), and Lewis and Clark with one (70 active).

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