(RiverStone Health Press Release)
BILLINGS - Respiratory illnesses, including influenza and COVID-19, are increasing in Yellowstone County, according to RiverStone Health.
In the last week of November, 175 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in Yellowstone County through testing at hospitals and clinics. That number doesn’t include any home tests. The number of new Yellowstone County COVID-19 cases diagnosed each week has more than doubled since the beginning of November. The current level of cases is similar to what Yellowstone County had at this time last year.
Seven Yellowstone County residents died of COVID-19 illness in October and November, according to coroner and hospital death reports to RiverStone Health. The deceased include six men and one woman, ranging in age from 50s to 90s. All had underlying health conditions that put them at high risk for severe complications from COVID-19 infection. To date in 2023, COVID-19 has been the cause of death for 39 Yellowstone County residents. A total of 646 Yellowstone County residents have died due to COVID-19 illness since the pandemic arrived in April 2020.
So far this fall, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has recorded two deaths from influenza. Yellowstone County has no reported flu deaths. The county has confirmed that 142 residents have been diagnosed with flu and seven were hospitalized.
Annual flu vaccinations and the new COVID-19 vaccination released in September are recommended for most people over six months of age. If you or your family members haven’t yet received those shots, it’s not too late. Usually, Montana’s flu season peaks in late January or early February.
Vaccines are a safe and effective way to prevent flu and COVID-19 and to reduce the severity of illness. Many clinics, pharmacies and RiverStone Health offer these vaccines. To make a vaccination appointment at RiverStone Health Immunization Clinic, call 406.247.3382.
In addition to vaccinations, consider these tips to reduce your risk of getting sick or spreading respiratory infections:
- Wash your hands often. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects, such as light switches, door handles and toys daily.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. This is how many germs spread.
- Stay home if you feel sick.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue or the inside of your elbow.
- Consider wearing a mask to help prevent infecting others.