BILLINGS - Yellowstone County health officials are warning that three respiratory illnesses, the flu, COVID-19 and RSV, are increasing within the county and adding to hospitalizations.
Last week, an average of a dozen COVID-19 patients were hospitalized daily in Billings, according to a Wednesday news release from RiverStone Health. In addition, one patient was hospitalized with the flu over the month, and a handful of children have been hospitalized recently with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to RiverStone.
Health officials noted that hospital emergency visits for symptoms of respiratory illness have ticked up over the past three weeks, though the rate remains lower than the same time of year in 2020 and 2021.
RiverStone also reported four new COVID-19-related deaths in October, bringing Yellowstone County death toll to 591 since March 2020. Two other October deaths had been previously reported, bringing the total for the month to six.
Those four most recent death reports included:
- A man in his 80s died on Oct. 30 at a Billings hospital. He had been vaccinated.
- A woman in her 90s died on Oct. 11 at a care facility. She had been vaccinated.
- A man in his 90s died on Oct. 10 at home. He had been vaccinated.
- A woman in her 70s died on Oct. 6 at home. She was not vaccinated.
Vaccines offer the safest scientifically proven protection against serious illness and death from flu and from COVID-19. Vaccines against flu and COVID-19 viruses are recommended for children as young as six months and everyone older. Both types of vaccines can be received at the same visit with your healthcare provider.
RiverStone Health Immunization Clinic provides vaccines for children and adults by appointment. COVID-19 vaccines remain available at no cost and RiverStone Health will work with individuals to make flu vaccine affordable. Please call 406.247.3382. Vaccines also are available at many other local clinics and pharmacies.
Along with vaccination, good hygiene practices reduce your risk of being infected with and spreading respiratory viruses. That means frequent, thorough handwashing, covering your cough and sneeze and staying home when ill. People who are at high risk for serious respiratory illness may consider additional precautions, such as wearing a facemask in public and avoiding crowds.
For more information, visit covid.riverstonehealth.org.