COVID-19 drive-through screening


BILLINGS, Mont. - RiverStone Health has outlined just how big of a problem COVID-19 is for Yellowstone County in the first week of August.

As of Tuesday, August 4, 72% of Montana's active COVID-19 hospitalizations are in Billings area hospitals.

As of Tuesday, Montana reported 70 active hospitalizations on the state's website. According to data released by RiverStone Health, 52 of those people are in Yellowstone County, nine are in the intensive care unit, and seven are on ventilators.

Thirty-one of the 52 people hospitalized are Yellowstone County residents.

The number of cases accelerated since the end of June. At that point Yellowstone County had 174 confirmed cases with 4 deaths. By the end of July, Yellowstone County counted 1,022 cases and 26 deaths. Of the 850 new cases reported in July, 300 were still active as of July 31.

On August 2, Yellowstone County recorded its 27th coronavirus-related death. Seventeen of those 27 people resided in a senior living community. Fifteen of those people were residents of Canyon Creek Memory Care Community.

Health officials say of the 149 positive COVID-19 cases identified within senior living facilities, 96 people resided at or worked at Canyon Creek Memory Care Community. The other 44 cases are divided among eight other senior facilities within the county. Two of the nine facilities are now considered clear of the virus.

As of Monday, August 3, the Yellowstone County health system has shifted from green to yellow. RiverStone Health says the shift signals that the challenges related to COVID-19 are beginning to outpace capacity.

As of August 1, Yellowstone County had 1,000 people in quarantine because of possible exposure and 300 people in isolation after testing positive for the virus.

The following chart outlines how RiverStone Health says people were exposed to the virus in July. The data reflects the 172 closed cases only.

July contact tracing of 172 closed cases in Yellowstone County  
 Household member24% 
 Informal family gathering27%
 Formal gathering3%
 Public event or activity1%
 Did not disclose information50%

RiverStone Health hired 25 temporary part-time workers to assist with contact tracing, testing, and screening data analysis efforts. RiverStone Health is also working with the state to connect with 20 nursing students to work on contact tracing.

On July 14, RiverStone Health opened a free drive-through testing location at Shrine Auditorium. That facility remains open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. but is only available to people who have symptoms for COVID-19.

Since the site launched operations, 1,422 tests have been performed. 


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