BILLINGS - RiverStone Health announced Thursday that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Yellowstone County.
The agency made the announcement in a press release that also stated it will be offering free COVID-19 at-home test kits next week.
"Only a small fraction of positive COVID-19 specimens are further tested to determine if they are Omicron or other variants of concern, so it is uncertain how many cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant are in Yellowstone County," the press release states. "Worldwide evidence so far indicates that the Omicron variant is even more highly transmissible than the Delta variant. Testing is very important to detect this virus so those infected can isolate themselves and take other precautions to reduce the risk of spreading it."
The Omicron variant has previously been confirmed in Missoula and Gallatin counties.
RiverStone Health, located at 123 S. 27th St., will offer free at-home test kits for COVID-19 for pick up from:
· 11 a.m. till 1 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, January 3 and 5.
· 3:30 till 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 6.
Look for the blue and white signs saying “Free at-home COVID-19 testing.” Pick up of at-home test kits will be offered weekly on this schedule at RiverStone Health while supplies last, the press release states.
One person can pick up one BinaxNOW test kit for each member of the family or household. No insurance card or ID is required. Representatives of small businesses or other local organizations who want test kits should call RiverStone Health at 406-651-6410.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who have symptoms of COVID-19 illness or who have been exposed to a person known to have COVID-19 take a second test 24-36 hours later if their first test is negative. Each kit contains two tests.
The BinaxNOW test requires the gentle swabbing of each nostril with a swab inserted barely an inch into the nostril. Tests results are considered accurate if performed by people age 15 or older or performed by an adult on children age two or older. Results are shown in 15 minutes.
People who get a positive test result are asked to report it to RiverStone Health by phone at 406-651-6415, by using a QR code or going to a form at covid.riverstonehealth.org. Reporting instructions will be provided with the test kits.