Yellowstone County health officer says rising COVID-19 cases a concern

Posted at 1:46 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 15:47:01-04

Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton said Thursday he is concerned about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Yellowstone County but has no plans to go back to stricter measures at this time.

In an afternoon news conference, Felton said that a rise in numbers was expected after Montana moved into phase two of its reopening, but Yellowstone County has seen a big jump in recent days with 39 cases reported this month and 10 new cases reported Thursday.

Felton said that almost all of the people who have tested positive in the county have shown symptoms and results are not yet back from the community testing that took place this past weekend at MetraPark.

Felton acknowledged that he does have the right to impose a stricter health order if it becomes necessary, but he is calling on residents to do their part to keep that from happening.

“We are at a point where we can either get it right or get it wrong,” he said.

Felton says changes in two indicators are reasons for concern along with the rising number of cases. One is the capacity of the healthcare system and the other is the difficulty of keeping up with contact tracing.

“Today we have 32 active cases and close contacts with each of these people range from a single person to 15 people,” said Felton.

Felton urged people to stay the course with social distancing and wearing masks, saying the prevention measures need to become the new norm.

"Failure to follow these simple recommendations means more sick people and increased demands on already stressed health and social service systems,” he said.

Watch the full news conference below: